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Match Analysis

Meek Bangladesh leaving yet another World Cup with a whimper

"We had great expectations, but we couldn't play up to those. All the criticism is quite natural," admits Taskin Ahmed

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
02-Nov-2021
Bangladesh have had little to cheer for at the T20 World Cup  •  Getty Images

Bangladesh have had little to cheer for at the T20 World Cup  •  Getty Images

There's a popular belief - mired more in hope than anything else - in Bangladesh that the team would often pull out a win whenever they were backed into a tight corner.
They did it, for instance, when their very existence as a Full Member was questioned. They did it after a big group of players defected to the Indian Cricket League. They did it after they were smashed in their home World Cup.
So, there was some hope that after losing their first three matches in this T20 World Cup, Bangladesh would feel cornered enough to bounce back strongly. Instead, it was the other less popular, but more regular scenario, that panned out in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Faced with two dead rubbers, Bangladesh appeared to be homesick children after a long school outing. They appeared disinterested in the slim mathematical probability of their semi-final chances. Then came the Shakib Al Hasan blow, which reduced their squad to 13 members.
Then, the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Dwaine Pretorius, aided by seam movement and bounce, hit them hard. When they were 45 for 6 in the 12th over, Bangladesh were at risk of getting bundled out for a total lower than West Indies' 55 from earlier in this tournament, or their own 70 all out from the 2016 T20 World Cup.
Some of Bangladesh's dismissals appeared to give a window into their mindset. Feeling frustrated in only the fourth over, Mohammad Naim hit one straight to midwicket. Seniors like Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah were undone by short-of-a-length deliveries. Mushfiqur played around it while Mahmudullah didn't know the ball hit his thumb, asking for a review. Afif Hossain missed a slog first ball, before Liton Das, who rarely faces a left-arm unorthodox bowler, got easily duped by Tabraiz Shamsi.
They still have Australia to play later this week, but already the tournament feels too long for Bangladesh. This is usually how ICC events have ended for them. For many years, there have been reports of Bangladesh feeling homesick during long tours, particularly at ICC tournaments. Bangladesh had a poor ending to a bright 2007 World Cup in West Indies. They finished their 2015 World Cup and 2017 Champions Trophy meekly. New Zealand stuffed them in their last match in the 2016 T20 World Cup. They ended the 2019 World Cup with huge defeats, too.
What is most worrying is how the batters have gone missing for most of this tournament. Bangladesh's 84 all out against South Africa was the third time they got bowled out in double figures this year. They have averaged 129 runs in the Super 12s phase. Clearly, something is wrong in their batting in T20Is. The string of ten home matches against Australia and New Zealand on raging turners in pitches in Dhaka didn't help their cause or confidence.
"We haven't played according to our potential. We are better than this," an articulate Taskin Ahmed said at the press conference. "We lost games that we were supposed to win. Maybe we are not as good as other T20 sides, but even then we didn't play up to our potential. I think we could have played better than this.
"It could have been a different story if we made even 120 or 125. I think today's wicket was different. The ball was seaming. There was off-the-pitch movement in both innings. They took nearly 14 overs to score 85 runs."
Taskin admitted that T20s are all about making runs, but Bangladesh couldn't combine batting and bowling in this competition.
"At the end of the day, runs are a factor in T20s. We didn't have regular big totals. When we did get a big score in one game, we didn't bowl well on that day. The opposite also happened. We made different mistakes in every game.
"Losing is not fun. Nobody wants to lose. We had great expectations, but we couldn't play up to those expectations. All the criticism is quite natural. We have to accept it.
"We have to get over it before the next match, or the next series. We just want to give back one win for the country.
Of course Taskin is hopeful. Perhaps he has a point to prove given that he has been in and out of the team throughout this T20 World Cup. But many of the batters, too, had to show their worth. Instead, they now simply appear to want to get out of the bio-bubble in the UAE, having been riddled with defeats, injuries and controversies.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84