Shanto: Gave up hope of making semis after losing early wickets

Bangladesh needed to chase down the target of 116 in 12.1 overs, but didn't seem to push hard enough considering a place in the semi-finals was at stake

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto said his team gave up pushing for a place in the T20 World Cup semi-finals after they lost three wickets in the first three overs of their chase against Afghanistan in Kingstown.
After restricting Afghanistan to 115 for 5 in the final Super Eight game, Bangladesh needed to win in 12.1 overs to go ahead of Afghanistan and Australia on net run rate and qualify for the semi-finals from Group 1 along with India.
"The plan was to try [to win in 12.1 overs] if we get a good start in the powerplay," Shanto said after the match. "We thought that if we don't lose early wickets, we could take the chance [to go for the semi-finals]. When we lost three wickets, we had a different plan. We wanted to see how we could win the game. The middle-order didn't take good enough decisions, which is why we lost the game today."
Bangladesh slipped to 23 for 3 in 2.5 overs and their subsequent slowdown sparked outrage among their fans, who could not fathom such an approach from a team that had a chance to qualify for the semi-finals.
Former captain Mashrafe Mortaza said in a post on Facebook that Bangladesh shouldn't have thought about merely winning against Afghanistan. "Litton's intent and the non-strikers' silence suggests that there was no clear message for the batting unit. Even if there was a message, it changed every one or two overs. It ended up with the decision to try to just win the game.
"Today should have been just about winning in 12.1 overs. There was no other way of thinking. Everyone would have understood if they got bowled out for 50. If we had won this game, we would have lost to our conscience. This was not like ten other matches. We could have made history today."
Bangladesh were in the hunt at 75 for 5 at the end of the ninth over. Towhid Hridoy had struck Mohammad Nabi for two fours in the eighth over before Litton Das hit Rashid Khan for two more fours in the ninth. Forty-three runs to get in 3.1 overs was tough but not impossible, but then Mahmudullah played out a Noor Ahmad over with five dot balls and just one attacking shot that yielded a boundary. Rashid took two wickets in the 11th over to end Bangladesh's chances of progressing to the semi-finals.
"We wanted to win the match. It was the initial plan," Shanto said. "When we saw 115 runs on the board, we had a plan to win in 12.1 overs. The batting group made a lot of poor decisions. It is frustrating and disappointing. We wanted to win this game. We had the chance in our grasp. We couldn't take it."
Litton remained unbeaten on 54, carrying his bat as Bangladesh were bowled out for 105 in the 18th over to confirm Afghanistan's place in the semi-finals at Australia's expense.
Bangladesh had made another tactical blunder by holding back Hridoy, arguably their best batter in this T20 World Cup, to No 6. Sending in out-of-form batters like Soumya Sarkar over Hridoy was costly but Shanto said the team wanted to have a left-right combination in the middle. "We mixed up the batting order because we wanted to keep left-right combination. There was Litton in one end. They had a lot of variations in their bowling. Everyone was clear, they knew we would do this."
Bangladesh's net run rate situation need not have been this dire had they shown more urgency in their previous Super Eight game against India. Chasing 197 on a good batting pitch in Antigua, Bangladesh had managed only 146 for 8 in response. Tamim Iqbal, an expert for ESPNcricinfo, and Shakib Al Hasan had criticised the team's attitude and tactics, dropping Taskin Ahmed to not showing intent in the powerplay.
"We gave our 100% against India," Shanto said after Bangladesh's loss to Afghanistan. "We picked the extra spinner in Mahedi, who bowled well. We should have scored a few more runs on that wicket [in Antigua]. We didn't utilise it properly. The scenario would have been different had we batted better [against India]."
Shanto signed off by apologising to the Bangladesh fans for letting them down. His last word at the press conference in St Vincent was "sorry". Bangladesh's fans, however, deserve more than a perfunctory 'sorry' from their captain and the team management.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84