ON HIS LAST LEGS: Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan tries in vain to regain ground as England wicketkeeper Matt Prior stumps him off James Tredwell on the fifth and final day of the second Test at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. Photo: STAR
"A draw would have been a great result for us.” This was the way Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan summarised the feelings of the entire team following his side's nine-wicket defeat in the second and final Test against England at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Shakib was outstanding with his all-round showing and appropriately received the man-of-the-match award, but there was every reason for the young skipper to be frustrated with the final outcome because the winning margin did not reflect the true picture of a match where the Tigers played hard and good cricket under scorching heat to justify their claim as an improving side in the five-day version of the game.
The Tigers showed that they have the ability to push their formidable opponents hard especially in home conditions. A draw, which might have been even more sweeter than the wins against Zimbabwe and a depleted West Indies, could have been a fairly reasonable result for the home team after the way they dominated proceedings for the first three days but "some silly mistakes, funny dismissals in the second innings, frustrating behaviour of the pitch [ball didn't turn even in the last session of the last day's play] and some decisions which might have gone in our [Bangladesh's] favour" were the reasons pointed out by the skipper for the disappointing finale of the series.
Bangladesh ended the tour empty handed with not a single win in the three-match one-day and two-match Test series but one can't deny the fact that Shakib Al Hasan's men gave the impression that they are slowly but surely coming of age.
And what was the big mistake on the final day?
Obviously, it was the suicidal dismissal of Naeem Islam. Naeem's decision to charge down the wicket was nothing short of criminal, and coming on the back of his patience and determination in the first innings it was even more shocking. The right-hander needlessly charged spinner James Tredwell only to reach at the safe hands of Kevin Pietersen at deep mid on to spoil the party.
"I tried to keep Shafiul (Islam) cool to spend more time in the middle and asked him not to play lofted shots but what he told me was that it would be hard for him to survive if he was too defensive and finally he played a bad shot to get out. And then Naeem made a huge mistake that didn't go with the team plan. Things could have been totally different if we could play ten more overs or add 40 more runs on the board," said Shakib with disappointment.
"These are the things we should improve on. I had a doubt about our physical fitness in the end as I thought we were tired after such hard work in trying conditions. We played good cricket for the first three and half days but we might have lost our hope for some reason, which should not have happened. We are in a learning curve and I think we learn from the mistakes very quickly," he added.
Because of these two senseless dismissals the remarkable effort of the Bangladesh skipper went in vain on his 23rd birthday. "If you considered the weather and conditions, definitely this was my best effort. I did whatever I could," said Shakib reflecting on his contribution in the match where he made 49 runs in the first innings, took the maximum load on his shoulder bowling 66 overs for four wickets and then put up a 96-run knock in the second innings.
"It was hard for me to keep faith on Rubel (Hossain) and that's why I had the intention to ensure scoring maximum runs," said Shakib adding that luck not only disfavoured his team but particularly also him. "You see I scored 49 (not fifty), hit 96 (not hundred) and bagged four wickets (not five)," he said with a smile.
Bangladesh captain also said that it was not surprising that England posted the 209-run winning target with the loss of one wicket. "It was not a fifth day wicket. It was difficult to dismiss any batsman in this kind of pitch until the batsman makes a mistake," he defended.
In the end the Bangladesh captain however was happy with their performance in the series as he believed they could take big steps forward from this showing.
"I think we played decent cricket through out the series and it will be great if we can continue our good showing," hoped the Bangladesh skipper.