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March 28, 2013
Bangladesh's captain Mushfiqur Rahim called his side's hustling victory against Sri Lanka a "calculative chase". It did not seem so deliberate. They won by three wickets to level the ODI series 1-1, but only after many moments of panic in the dressing room and out in the middle.
Following a rain break of more than two hours, the equation for Bangladesh was to score another 105 runs in 13.2 overs from a position of 78 for 1 in 13.4 overs. They lost six wickets in the process and some of the batsmen looked too eager to finish off the game. But the staying power of Nasir Hossain, amid the tension, gave them the edge.
"We wanted to play cricketing shots to get a 30-40 run partnership up early," Mushfiqur said. "We are not used to playing in such tight circumstances against such tough opponents, so I think some of us panicked. I would still call it a calculative chase because we took risks and lost some wickets, but in the end we had one guy holding things together."
The underlying theme of this series has been how poor Bangladesh's resources has been. They lost several players to injuries, but the biggest were those to Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mashrafe Mortaza. These are senior players in a very young team that does not win often and yet carries the swelling expectations of a cricket-mad nation.
To beat Sri Lanka in their backyard has given Mushfiqur the pride to tell his players that all is not automatically lost when the stars are absent. "If Shakib was here, he could have won the man-of-the-series award probably, because he has done it quite a number of times in the past," Mushfiqur said. "But some of the others have stepped up this time. The team will now believe that without big stars, Bangladesh can still do well."
The captain also showed appreciation for Nasir who has progressed into a batsman keen to finish games off during tight chases. "Hats off to Nasir," Mushfiqur said. "I firmly believe that he can break all batting records in the Bangladesh team if he continues in this vein. He has played really well. He does well when the team needs him to score. It is his most important trait."
With such a long gap between what effectively was two parts to the game, it was easy to forget Abdur Razzak's earlier achievement, and the unassuming manner in which he led the attack. The left-arm spinner finished with his fourth five-wicket haul in ODIs, which held back Sri Lanka's surge towards an even bigger score. More significantly for Razzak, his fifth wicket on the day was also his 200th in ODIs for Bangladesh.
Mushfiqur was full of praise. "I congratulate Razzak bhai for becoming the first bowler from Bangladesh to take 200 wickets. He is a tough guy, and he can bowl at the top and at the end so well. Sometimes bowlers feel uncomfortable at certain situations, but he has never said no to me."
The manner in which Mushfiqur managed to get the best out of the five bowlers will remain as a notch in the captain's belt. The spinners impressed and the pace bowlers just about managed to get away with their ten overs, but it was the management of these spells that was vital in keeping Sri Lanka quiet after such a good start, and in taking wickets later when the final slog was supposed to be in full swing.
"I wanted to use Mominul or Nasir, but they had a partnership going till the 35th over," Mushfiqur said. "Using occasional bowler against set batsmen would have been tough on them given the fielding restrictions these days."
Bangladesh take on Sri Lanka one last time on this tour, in a Twenty20 game at the Pallekele International Stadium on March 31.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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