Bangladesh's vice-captain Mahmudullah believes that his team was 20 runs short of forcing a series win against West Indies. Coming into this game - the third of a five-match series - Bangladesh were 2-0 up. They went on to be bowled out for 227 in Mirpur, and were then unable to find a stand-out bowler who could bowl them to victory.
After Bangladesh's linchpin Shakib Al Hasan had been ruled out of the series with a shin injury, West Indies might have rolled them over. Yet, the home team had managed to take the lead, that too with a win by a record margin (in the second match) to their credit. Now, when they needed a special knock at a crucial juncture of the five-match series though, no one could reproduce a Shakib special - for example, his century against New Zealand that helped Bangladesh clinch that ODI series in late 2010, or the 92 against Sri Lanka that took Bangladesh to a tournament final, or the quick 65 against West Indies to clinch the 2009 series.
"I think we were short by 20-25 runs," Mahmudullah said at the end of the game. "But still had we bowled better, we could have had a different result today. We should have taken more wickets at the top too.
"There was some bounce in the pitch early on, but our openers gave us a start. We lost wickets in the middle order quickly, so we couldn't recover from that. When I was batting with Mushfiqur [Rahim], our target was a total of around 235 to 240. We had decided to take it easy in the batting Powerplay, but we couldn't do it."
The runs that were needed never came as the hosts had to recover from tricky positions twice when they batted. The first was when they slipped from 61 for 1 to 78 for 4 in the space of five overs. Another wicket five overs later made the job harder for Bangladesh, but a 58-run sixth wicket stand between captain Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah took some pressure off. After Mushfiqur and Mashrafe Mortaza fell, Mahmudullah and Sohag Gazi added 39 runs for the eighth wicket, taking the total past the 200-run mark.
Chris Gayle's early dismissal in the chase was a boost but Bangladesh seemed somewhat surprised to see Marlon Samuels bat up the order at No. 3. He was involved in a century second-wicket stand that helped the visitors lay a solid foundation for their chase, and left the home side way behind in the contest.
"There was help for the bowlers in both innings, but if we could have taken more wickets at the top, they would have been under huge pressure. But we couldn't do it today," Mahmudullah said.
When the game drew towards a tight finish, with West Indies losing quick wickets, Bangladesh seemed to miss having more solid bowling options. Mahmudullah bowled nine overs and Naeem was used for five from the other end. Mushfiqur, towards the close, had to use Mominul Haque's part-time left-arm spin, which was effective, but was never in the class of the man he had replaced in the squad. With Gazi and Abdur Razzak already troubling West Indies, another attacking option - like Shakib - would have come in handy. Instead, Mushfiqur had to be cautious when rotating his main bowlers.
Despite that void left by Shakib, however, the bowlers did a commendable job, making West Indies fight right till the end. And while batting, had Mahmudullah batted till the final over instead of the 46th, Bangladesh could have had a bigger score to defend. The next two games will also be played without Shakib, so Bangladesh will have to rely on other senior players in the dressing room to perform when there is everything to lose.