Bashar upset by inconsistent campaign
After the champagne feeling of the victories against India and South Africa came the bitter taste of flat beer and a tame 74-run defeat to the one team Bangladesh had expected to beat in the Super Eights. Habibul Bashar, the last man dismissed after yet another patchy innings, made no excuses for a dismal showing, even though Bangladesh were clearly affected by the 11th-hour loss of Syed Rasel, the new-ball bowler who was outstanding against both South Africa and England.
"The way we played, we deserved to lose," Bashar said. "It was one of those days when nothing goes your way. One of our new-ball bowlers twisted his ankle, Ash [Mohammad Ashraful] dislocated his finger, we fielded pretty ordinary, and when it came to the chase, we lost too many early wickets. We did nothing right."
Shahadat Hossain stepped in after Rasel turned his ankle in the warm-up, but his nine overs went for 51 as Ireland got the solid start that allowed them to accelerate freely in the final overs. "He has been bowling well this World Cup, and his economy [rate] is under four," Bashar said, when asked how much of an impact Rasel's injury had had. "He has been doing a pretty good job for the team but unfortunately, he twisted his ankle just ten minutes before the toss. We're a bit lucky that it didn't happen after the toss. But we did feel his absence."
Calling it the lowest point of Bangladesh's World Cup campaign, Bashar said: "It's really frustrating. We beat two teams, but when we got to a game we believed we should have won, we lost. We don't want to finish at the bottom of the Super Eights. We wanted to finish at least seventh or sixth and winning this game was very important."
The pursuit of 244 was always going to be a daunting one once early wickets were lost, and the unfortunate dismissal of Saqibul Hasan, who batted so beautifully against England, plunged Bangladesh into deep trouble at 48 for 3. A superb little cameo from Ashraful, and a dice-with-danger knock from Tamim Iqbal revived the innings, but two indistinguished strokes more or less killed off their hopes.
"We were under a bit of pressure," Bashar said. "When you're playing teams ranked lower than you, people will want you to win. You just have to accept that. When they scored 240, it was a good score but not so big that we couldn't chase it.
"The way we batted, it didn't seem that we had a plan. But we did have one, and it was not to lose early wickets. Of course, we needed to score runs. But when you lose so many wickets at the top, it doesn't matter what the score is. It's always difficult for you."
Bashar said he would probably have bowled first anyway on winning the toss, and made no effort to hide his disappointment at slipshod fielding that allowed the Irish batsmen to get away. Two catches were spilled in comical fashion on the boundary and the fielding and throwing bore no resemblance to far better displays earlier in the tournament.
"I think they batted really well, but we didn't bowl well and the fielding was pretty ordinary," he said. "We dropped quite a few catches and misfielded so often. We also messed up a couple of run-out chances. But you have to give credit to Ireland. The wicket had some bounce in the morning, but they stuck to their game-plan and didn't lose a wicket. Their patience paid off."
Ireland's victory leaves Bangladesh bottom of the table, with one game to come against West Indies on Thursday. For Bashar and his team, the next step has to be to find a modicum of inconsistency. "Some days we look brilliant and on other days we are so ordinary," he said, in a frank assessment of his side's schizophrenic nature. "We need to be a lot more consistent if we want to be considered a good side."
Dileep Premachandran is associate editor of Cricinfo