Shakib backs his boys after Karthik magic

The captain says there was not much wrong done on Bangladesh's part, but still wonders whether it's "nerves or luck" that kicks in to thwart them in tournament finals

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Associated Press

Associated Press

Shakib Al Hasan told Soumya Sarkar to stay calm and take his time before bowling the last ball, off which India required five runs. What happened next, Shakib feels, was sheer brilliance from Dinesh Karthik, who spanked a flat six over the covers to win his side a heart-stopping final.
"I didn't tell [Soumya] anything in particular," Shakib said. "It is better not to tell a bowler [too much]. I just told him to take his time. Sometimes you can rush into a delivery and then miss your length. I think he bowled very well for three overs and in fact I can't really blame anyone; we just had two bad overs. I am not blaming anyone. I am really proud of the team's bowling and fielding effort."
Shakib isn't known to dwell on regrets and it was no different this time. But there was still the lingering feeling of "what could have been", particularly over Rubel Hossain's woeful 19th over; Karthik belted him for two sixes and as many fours in a 22-run over, bringing India back into the game.
If there was an element of surprise in seeing Rubel come on for the penultimate over rather than being saved for the often high-pressure final over, Shakib had an explanation: "When Mustafizur [Rahman] bowled that brilliant over [the 18th, featuring one wicket and just one leg bye], India were left needing [34] off the last two overs. Rubel was our best bowler today after the way he bowled his first three overs. I believed in him. I thought even if he bowled badly, he would go for 15 runs.
"I would have 20 runs to play with [in the final over], which would have given Soumya some cushion. This was why I brought Rubel for the 19th over."
Shakib said that very few batsmen in the world could have timed the ball as well as Karthik did. He felt that Rubel didn't stray too far from his usual length. "He didn't miss [his lengths] by much. I don't know many batsmen who can hit a six off the first ball, and then keep hitting the boundaries.
"There are very few instances in history. There was something other-worldly about it. Rubel got a bit nervous after going for 10 runs off the first two balls. I still feel that I will back him the next time such a situation comes."
Shakib did wonder, however, about what happens to the Bangladesh team when they are in a final; they have now lost five tournament finals in the limited-overs formats, including a similarly tight last-over defeat against Pakistan in the 2012 Asia Cup final. On that occasion, Bangladesh couldn't take nine runs off the last over.
"I don't know if it is nerves or luck. Ten [12, which India needed] runs in one over isn't a lot but then you end up defending five runs off the last ball... You would back a bowling team when they are defending 35 [34] off the last two overs. It just didn't happen for us. The bowlers tried their best."
Bangladesh can reflect on an encouraging performance in the Nidahas Trophy. They didn't quite win a lot of hearts in Sri Lanka with their antics, but they won two gritty encounters and nearly won the trophy itself. But, Shakib said, that's where the main difference lay. "It is like the difference between scoring 99 and 100. Being trophy-less is pretty much the same thing."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84