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April 19, 2007
For the clearest indication of just how schizophrenic Bangladesh's World Cup has been, all you had to do was see the run-out of Tamim Iqbal and the shot of a Bangladeshi fan in the crowd, mouth cupped in shock even as tears ran down his cheeks, seconds after the madness. This was just the way it was for Bangladesh on an ultimately disappointing day that saw them win the toss, stifle an unmotivated West Indies to 67 for 3 after 25 overs, and then let a gettable target of 231 end in another batting disaster. It all added up to a 99-run loss to West Indies on a gorgeous afternoon at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, and a record of 9-4-6 in their greatest tournament, of any capacity, yet.
As for the hosts this was their first win in the Super Eights, but many local fans would've shaken their heads in the first over. Corey Collymore got Tamim to stand and nick one to Brian Lara at second slip, who pouched it in his lap. He seemed to have full control of the ball but it slipped from his grasp as he turned to congratulate his bowler. The sight of an uncertain Lara, who picked up the ball and looked to the umpire with his arms raised in question wasn't enough to convince anyone, and Tamim was called back.
Tamim probably hasn't read Horace, and so failed to seize the day. Javed Omar dabbed one to the off side and both batsmen set off. Dwayne Bravo swooped in from point; suddenly, Tamim froze and turned back. Omar continued with the run and passed Tamim as both batsmen were stuck at the non-striker's end. Picture the shot of that poor fan again.
West Indies cashed in on that break, and then made further inroads. Collymore dismissed Aftab Ahmed with one that lifted off a length, shaped away and drew the edge into Denesh Ramdin's gloves. As Collymore celebrated with his signature three-fingered salute, Lara made sure he was the first man to reach him. It just got better for West Indies when Saqibul Hasan was dismissed for a duck at 23 for 3 after 11 overs.
Mohammad Ashraful pulled Daren Powell to square leg, Omar edged him to Chris Gayle at first slip and at 35 for 5 the game was over as a contest. When Lara dropped Habibul Bashar at a wide slip - his third of the day - you had to wonder why there weren't more slips in place. Two more were added and sure enough, Bravo plucked a sharp catch over his head at third slip to get rid of Bashar as Bangladesh slipped to 52 for 6. Bashar, undoubtedly due for a roasting from fans when he gets home, failed to end his tournament on a personal good note. Mushfiqur Rahim (38 not out) and Mashrafe Mortaza (37) delayed the inevitable with a 58-run seventh-wicket partnership, but did little to take the gloss off a poor day at the shop. Mohammad Rafique, nine years and two days to the match in which he scored Bangladesh's first ODI half-century to set up their first win, fell for a duck and a much-needed West Indian victory was wrapped up soon after.
The abysmal batting was in stark contrast to the way Bangladesh bowled. Mortaza and Syed Rasel, were brilliant after Bashar decided to field and once the openers were knocked off early, the spinners piled on the pressure as they quickly found assistance from the bare pitch. There was swing early for Mortaza, who adhered to a fabulous line, and there was evidence of the extra bounce as every batsman hopped up and lunged forward, played and missed and withdrew the bat. Devon Smith joined Chris Gayle up the order and made no impact. Against a controlled Mortaza, swinging it both ways, he got a fuller one that pitched on middle and off and moved away to remove his off stump.
At the other end Rasel kept it simple which was more than enough to keep the batsmen guessing. Doing a Nathan Bracken, Rasel pitched it on a good length, slanted it across the right-handers and dried up the runs. Of all the things West Indies anticipated for the World Cup, Gayle being so ineffective was nowhere on the list. The horrors continued today as Gayle, already undone by a bouncer from Mortaza, fell to one from Rasel that was full on pitching. As it straightened, it caught him lunging half-cock forward, and he was struck in front of off stump.
The famed left-arm spin troika, Abdur Razzak, Rafique and Saqibul bowled well too, keeping it flat and quick, but were let down by Bashar's field placings which, after three quickets before 25 overs, looked more like he was playing for damage control rather than ramming home the advantage.
It was easy fodder for a hustling Ramnaresh Sarwan, the only batsman to show an appetite for a scrap. With Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who plodded along in what has become standard fashion to an 85-ball 50, Sarwan added 81 in 16.1 overs for the fourth wicket, his contribution being 46. Where the first 25 overs yielded just 67 runs, against a very disciplined new-ball attack, the last 25 brought 167, thanks to Sarwan and Lara's enterprising 60-run fifth-wicket stand. It was a typical Sarwan innings, keeping with his tournament form. He struggled at the death due to exhaustion, but still ran the twos and found the gaps to finish unbeaten on 91 at better than a run-a-ball. With his imminent one-day international exit, and the rumours that that he will not be selected for the tour to England next month, Lara treated the partisan crowd to a 27-ball 33 cameo, with two fine sixes.
In the end, it can be said that Bangladesh allowed West Indies to get too many. It can also be said that they were the second-best Asian side in the tournament, they carried that mantle with a respectable amount of professionalism and that they showed once and for all that they are minnows no more. West Indies have one game left, against another side already knocked out, but they have far less to take from a tournament billed as the greatest thing to happen to West Indian cricket than Bangladesh. It's been that kind of World Cup for them.
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