ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Bangladesh v South Africa, Group B, World Cup 2011, Mirpur

The great Bangla tragedy

Bangladesh's performance in Mirpur seemed to follow the script of a Shakespeare tragedy, with unfulfilled ambition, revenge and eventually the fall of would-be heroes

Firdose Moonda in Mirpur

March 19, 2011

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

Bangladesh's players walk off dejected after being dumped out of the World Cup, Bangladesh v South Africa, Group B, World Cup 2011, March 19, 2011
There were always signs that Bangladesh's last act was going to be a horror show, and it ended up being so when their players forget their lines © Associated Press
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Shakespeare would have been proud of this tragedy. There was unfulfilled ambition, revenge, inner turmoil and death, not of anyone, but of a dream.

At the end, the Bangladesh vision lay lifeless on the Shere Bangla field. The supporters had abandoned them, some leaving when the early dents were made in the batting line-up and the rest jumping ship near the end. The play wasn't worth watching anymore and they didn't care what happened to the hero Shakib Al Hasan. He was the protagonist and we all know what happens to them in Shakespeare's scripts.

When the curtain opened, the scene that rolled out had the makings of a horror show. The Bangladesh fast bowlers were feeding Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith some juicy deliveries. Full tosses, balls pitched on leg stump, short and wide stuff, and there was no stopping the opening pair. Bangladesh allowed Smith, who had been in scratchy form in the tournament, to plant some roots and settle. They gave Amla the stage to continue growing his stature as one of the batsmen of the tournament, and Bangladesh's woes may have grown even more had they been allowed to continue.

There was a twist in the plot, though. Abdur Razzak, Naeem Islam, Mahmudullah and Shakib did what they did to South Africa in the 2007 World Cup in Guyana - tied them up. Although they were not running the same kind of strangling circles as they did on that day, they still managed to pull the run-rate back enough for 250 to look like a reasonable amount of runs to restrict South Africa to.

Of course, the South Africa batsmen were part of the play too and they had some acting to do themselves. Jacques Kallis brought up his half-century almost unnoticed, and Faf du Plessis was able to craft his character for the third time in this World Cup. du Plessis has been able to show the maturity that many from his domestic franchise knew he had all along, against India, Ireland and again today. South Africa's middle order, still relatively untested, may need a few more of these situations before they start to be considered as threatening as the bowling attack, but du Plessis will be central to that.

The Bangladesh bowlers would have never seen him before and it showed. They bowled to him as South Africa bowled to Mohammad Ashraful in Guyana in that World Cup - as though he was too unknown a quantity for them to have done much homework on. They batted in the same fashion against Lonwabo Tsotsobe, although they had seen him on during South Africa's A tour early last year.

What really happened is that Bangladesh hadn't rehearsed their lines properly, hadn't put enough research into the South Africa players; maybe because they didn't expect them to field the side that they ended up fielding. Once Tsotsobe had set them back significantly, the lines that they were struggling to remember were gone.

There was no recovery. The fans seemed to know that before anyone else and that may have been why they started pouring out. Shakib tried to prompt a comeback, that gentle reminder of how things should be, and he had four beautiful boundaries, but his performance alone would never be enough. Smith has said that South Africa were on no revenge mission; but the way they unleashed the pain on Bangladesh told a different story. It meant that there was no room for any of the ambition Bangladesh had harboured to peep through.

This game alone may not have been the vehicle to fulfill Bangladesh's dream but because of the results of the past few weeks - the loss to West Indies and then the West Indies loss to England - everything eventually hung on beating South Africa. Maybe the end wasn't too painful because beating the team that has looked strongest in this tournament would be a tough ask. It may have made the final act easier to swallow.

Shakib was too traumatised to be able to think about the way forward, but Smith had a suggestion, although it is not positive. He thinks there that there is still a long way to go before the script can be revised. "The challenge will be to create consistency," he said. '"They need to start learning to win." It may be as difficult as learning their lines but they've got four years to practise.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Comments: 26 
Posted by slmn on (March 22, 2011, 19:38 GMT)

BD. You guys start matches like Heros. Whereas You should end matches like Heros.

Posted by T-Denver on (March 21, 2011, 22:46 GMT)

I think part of the problem is BD players get way too excited and too much attention/rewards after a single win. An example is the prize money that Shafiul and Mahmudullah received after the Eng game. Prior to 2007 WC, it was ok to do this but they need to get passed that phase. I think BCB needs to implement rules where rewards and glamour are not handed out after a single win but after a successful yr (A yr filled with 2 or more series wins maybe). This restriction should be against private sector rewards to players too. I believe this will keep the players focused on their game rather than the fame. The fame and glorification is what destroyed Ashraful in the yrs after the 2007 WC.

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 5:29 GMT)

better nockout bangladesh from worldcup icc

Posted by mrgupta on (March 20, 2011, 22:24 GMT)

Go Tigers go.... Go Home. You are still a minnow who caused an upset against Eng and nothing better. What happened to the pre-tournament big talks when the BD fans and players were all convinced that BD will make it to QF easily?

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 10:02 GMT)

nothin to say, nothin to share, just one thing very long way to go :( and need to strong consistency :)... Good luck Tigers

Posted by Ganeshran on (March 20, 2011, 6:27 GMT)

Well ...so much for Tamim's dream of being the highest scorer in the tournament!!!!! This happens when people get their heads stuck in clouds!! LOL.Bangla fans need to understand that having a basher and a mediocre spin attack doesn't make you world beaters even in your backyard.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 5:47 GMT)

ok,good times for critics to say all that they can on Bangladesh because being one of the youngest sides in the world cup,they keep surprising all the major teams,im sure all the big names such as India,SA,Pak and even Auzies got the taste of sour defeat in world cup and it haunted them long time.i am proud of my nation still because despite the horror shows,and all the inconsistency we can beat any team on our day,anywhere.and we will continue supporting them till the end of time,because they are our own,and they will again raise their hands high.and on a different note,with all the hype and publicity,and the BEST TEAM supposedly,il ,ill be very interested to see how india wins the world cup,if they can win,then ill give up cricket for good.cheers

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 5:37 GMT)

That's what happens when you start expecting things, which in this case was over-expectations from the team and by their fans as well. 2007 was a different story, they never expected to win against India or SA, they just tried to play their best which in fact did those wonders for them. Now they will learn the harder ways of (considered by their fans at least) being a 'strong' side. Hope they don't prove to be fad in cricketing world for an year beating three-tier teams. Hope they will learn the minute difference but it's huge impacts on the game between being confident of themselves to do well and being over-confident of beating top sides everyday. Because miracles doesn't repeat itself at such short intervals. Good Luck Bangladesh Cricket.

Posted by hasib9 on (March 20, 2011, 5:36 GMT)

I agree with Smith. We need a batting coach, keep the bowling and fielding coaches, and replace Siddons with perhaps an experienced coach who has played many international cricket. It would be great if Bangladesh can get someone like Ganguly or Wasim Akram to be the head coach.

Posted by taufque_atique on (March 20, 2011, 3:42 GMT)

We're proud of what BD cricket team have done so far..

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