A devastated Shakib Al Hasan has said his team's performance against South Africa was so poor that he couldn't identify any specific areas of concern. Bangladesh were bowled out for 78, the third lowest total of the tournament, and Shakib could not explain how they fell so far short of the 285 run target.
"When you score 180 or 200 you can find those mistakes [that explain why you didn't win]," he said. "But when you are bowled out for 70 or 80, I don't know how you can find those weaknesses. They are all weaknesses."
It was a stark admission, but an accurate one. Everything was a weakness. Bangladesh's demise in this match, although it was played out with the bat, was orchestrated with the ball. "Our fast bowlers let us down today," Shakib said. They simply gave away too many runs. Before the match, Shakib said that apart from the opening game, which was played on a different type of wicket, scoring 250 on this surface was a rarity. He knew that it would take a sterling effort with the bat or a feeble one with the ball to allow a first innings total in excess of 250 to be reached.
"We thought they had scored 20 runs more," Shakib said, indicating that a target of 265 would have been more acceptable. Had Bangladesh fielded better, they may have found themselves chasing even less as Graeme Smith said that South Africa though 250 was a reasonable total. Instead, balls snuck in between hands and through legs, they weren't hunted down to the boundary as much they were ambled after, and the throws coming in from the outfield were more limp and wayward than strong and purposeful.
While Bangladesh have never been a side known for their fielding prowess, in a match this important they should have put extra effort into the things they can control - things like getting to the ball quickly and keeping the run leakage to a minimum. There were moments of commitment, when fielders in the inner ring pounced like tigers, but those were undone by the number of times an extra few runs were conceded because of a fumble on the rope or a lapse in concentration when a clean pick up would have done the trick.
It might be an area of their game they are going to work on or it might be an area of their game that was neglected because of circumstance, the reality of playing in a do-or-die situation. Shakib said that the enormity of the task at hand took its toll and that the ability of the side, which were so determined in another must win match against England, have not changed overnight. "Maybe pressure got to everyone. Maybe the expectation was high and we couldn't handle it. The skill levels are still the same. "
It was exactly those skills, which have shown so much improvement in recent times, that had earned Bangladesh the label of being a decent pick for the second round and created the expectation in the first place. With the progress they had made, the team themselves had ambitions of getting to the knockouts and Shakib said there is massive disappointment that they haven't. "Before the tournament we believed that we will qualify for the second round. That was the plan, especially in the home conditions."
Having built a strong base at home, Shakib knows that he will have to spend the next few days, and even months, giving answers for his team's shortcomings. He seems to have mastered the way he should do that with regards to this tournament. No excuses, no asking for forgiveness, no justifying, just plainly stating what is glaringly obvious - that in the moments that mattered, Bangladesh didn't turn up. He understands that his team will have an enormous debt to repay to those who believed in them from ball one. "They [the fan] deserve more; we didn't play well at all. The way we were performing for the last 12 months, they were expecting us to do better than we did," he said, and then came the clincher, "but we couldn't."