If there was an innings each from two batsmen that stood for much of their teams' success or struggle in the one-off Twenty20, it was Tamim Iqbal and Marlon Samuels' showings on Monday evening. They provided a lot of entertainment to the Mirpur crowd as both played big innings, employing dazzling strokeplay, but the basic differences between their knocks showed why West Indies are the World Twenty20 champions and Bangladesh are ranked No. 9 in the format.
The two innings were paced differently with Samuels batting at a much faster strike rate (197.67) and having more power behind his shots. He bludgeoned nine sixes, including four in the last over of the innings, while Tamim struck just the two. Tamim tried to hit more balls out of the ground but often mistimed his slogs, while Samuels hardly played the cross-bat shot, preferring more conventional methods to deposit the ball into the stands.
Samuels batted like he did in the World Twenty20 final in Colombo, where he brought West Indies back from the dead with an innings that had class - a rarity in the game's shortest version. Here too Samuels began slowly but whenever he pleased, a six was hit. He also made the best of all three lives offered by Bangladesh's wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim. He launched into Sohag Gazi and Abdur Razzak, twice each, and then finally Rubel Hossain, who was smacked for four sixes in the space of five balls in the final over of the innings.
Tamim admitted that he doesn't possess muscle like his opponents, but said the difference in physical strength can be overcome by other attributes. "They are much stronger than us, without a doubt," he said. "We have qualities that they don't have, and vice versa. We can't be as strong as them but we have to improve our [plus points] and beat them with it.
"We tried to give the ball our all [while batting] from as early as the 12th over. If [Mahmudullah] Riyad bhai and I couldn't hit the ball, nobody could. I think we played our best cricket and lost the game, so the team or the supporters shouldn't be too disappointed with this performance."
The other difference was with converting the singles into twos. Tamim took more singles and twos in his unbeaten 88 than Samuels -- the 30 singles were 13 more than what Samuels had taken. But there were at least four occasions on which Tamim could have converted his singles into doubles, a requirement all the more vital as they were chasing the game.
But Tamim and Mahmudullah resorted to wait on fours and sixes and lost out on runs for 14 balls, from the penultimate delivery of the 16th over onwards, a period that had no boundaries. As a result, the required run-rate shot up from 13.57 in the middle of the 16th over to an improbable 24.50. It is this sort of misreading of the Twenty20 game that has cost Bangladesh in the past, and has pushed them to the bottom of the Twenty20 rankings.
Tamim said that they tried to take a more realistic approach to chasing a large total and that the two teams were almost at an even keel towards the end of each innings. "In previous T20s, we used to be over-aggressive and get bowled out for 80-100 runs. Today we tried to play properly and see what we can do towards the end. We were always on top.
"We were 159 in the 18th over, and that same point they were 163. Something happened in the last over that we bowled [Samuels smashed 29 runs] but they bowled it well. But I have no regrets because we played our best cricket."
Samuels' final-over blast took West Indies from a respectable total to one which Bangladesh couldn't chase with confidence. Samuels batted better here than in Colombo, and though that was a final of a world event, this night too needed a special effort so that the long flight home wasn't entirely filled with regret after West Indies' one-day reverses.