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Match Analysis

Glass half full for Bangladesh as small mistakes sink their T20 World Cup campaign

They scored some landmark wins, but also found themselves unravelling at key moments - especially after having questionable decisions going against them

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Even before they had a direct shot at making the semi-finals, Bangladesh were pleased with their 2022 T20 World Cup campaign. They were happy beating the dangerous Netherlands and Zimbabwe, their first-ever wins in the main round of the tournament. They nearly beat India, which they also counted as progress.
Forty minutes before the start of their match against Pakistan, Bangladesh's time in Australia got even better. Netherlands' unbelievable win against South Africa at the Adelaide Oval opened up an unlikely opportunity for them to reach the semi-final of a major tournament for the first time. They bossed Pakistan for the first ten overs of this virtual quarter-final, but that's when their little mistakes, those that have been bothering them for the last two years, crept in, and effectively took them out of the tournament. Still, all of this put together is a better showing than the 2021 T20 World Cup.
But just like the last campaign, where they lost all five games in the main round, Bangladesh once again made the same old mistakes. Dropping catches and losing wickets in a bunch were the major ones, but also missing direct hits, and reacting poorly after a bad decision to give away the momentum. Many say it is an emotional team. But it is also a team prone to too many small errors.
Against Pakistan too, a couple of dicey moments took out the sting from Bangladesh. Shakib Al Hasan's lbw decision, contentious as it may be, ended up derailing the innings altogether. Shakib threw his arms up in frustration, and spoke to the umpires about the decision. It was controversial but elite athletes are expected to move past the moments that can break their concentration. Bangladesh instead slipped from 73 for 2 to 109 for 7 in the space of seven overs. They made only 57 runs in the second half of their innings after an impressive first ten overs.
Najmul Hossain Shanto, who was batting at the other end when Shakib was dismissed, agreed that Bangladesh didn't think it was the correct decision by the umpire but he felt it did not break their concentration, seeing Shakib all worked up.
"There was confusion for everyone," Shanto said. "Don't think that happens normally. But we were not focusing on that wicket... I was in the middle when it happened. We were quite sure that it wasn't out. But we can't really say anything about the umpire's decision.
"I don't think our concentration wavered [after that], but we didn't play well in the middle overs.
"Shakib bhai is a top player who plays impactful knocks. It helps our team. But the other batsmen were quite capable, and have done well in the past. We were not focused on the dismissal. He could have got out in another way. We believed that all our batsmen are capable to bat in any situation."
Either way, the incident led to a batting collapse, and the loss of momentum seeped into their fielding. Wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan dropped a straightforward chance in the first over of the chase, giving Mohammad Rizwan a life. The dropped catch, Bangladesh's sixth in the tournament, set off a string of misfields in the field. Shortly after Rizwan got out, Shanto missed a direct hit from short third with Mohammad Nawaz halfway down the pitch.
There was a more pronounced string of mistakes against India too. And there were emotions at play then too. Bangladesh accused the umpires of not penalising India for Virat Kohli's fake-fielding attempt, and Shakib did seem very animated when the umpires went to inform him about the resumption of play after the rain. Litton Das, playing the innings of his life, hurt his wrist when he slipped trying to take a single. Having found out how wet the grass was next to the pitch, he was perhaps a bit circumspect next ball. Going for the second run, he took a circular turn but stumbled and was short of his ground by a metre as KL Rahul nailed a direct hit from the deep.
When the play had resumed after the rain break, Bangladesh needed another 85 runs from nine overs with all ten wickets in hand. Most teams would have fancied their chances, especially against a potentially wet ball, but Bangladesh's batting collapse was baffling.
While many believe Bangladesh did not properly prepare for the last year's World Cup, even then they had moments when avoiding small mistakes could have given them important wins. They reduced Scotland to 53 for 6 in their opening match but allowed them to reach 140 for 9, and ended up losing by six runs. Dropped catches and wrong match-ups cost them against Sri Lanka. A similar story unfolded against West Indies too.
While they have notched up some landmark wins this time around, their T20 form overall has been quite ordinary: before the World Cup, they won four out of 16 matches in 2022.
So, when these small mistakes aggregated to make a big difference in almost every game in this World Cup, it posed the question as to whether Bangladesh have indeed "progressed" in this World Cup.
Netherlands' win over South Africa gave Bangladesh one last chance, but another middle-order collapse crushed it.
"We stuck to the same style of planning like in every game," Shanto said. "We knew about the opportunity when we went to play the game. We wanted to win this game. We gave our 100%, but it didn't happen.
"We don't even have to mention about the lower middle order. We didn't play well as a team. The matches we won, we won as a team. It was everyone's responsibility to do well, regardless of the middle order or openers. We didn't do well as a team today."
All these mistakes should rankle as Bangladesh head back home. Captain Shakib and technical consultant S Sriram have tried to downplay the expectations from their first press conference of the tournament, right up to Sriram saying that the team should be happy with just beating Zimbabwe and Netherlands.
Glass half full it is then, but will anyone with some authority in the BCB find out why the glass has so many tiny leaks?

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84