Bangladesh’s approach against Sri Lanka on Thursday was symptomatic of their attitude in international cricket. They want themselves to be considered as part of the Big Boys Club, but do not want to make an effort to take the step up. On Thursday, it seemed the moment Sri Lanka posted 332 for 1, the Bangladesh camp gave up. (Full Coverage| Points table| Fixtures)
The prolonged poor form of Tamim Iqbal is hurting Bangladesh immensely. Since June 2014, Tamim has scored just 288 runs in 13 matches at a paltry average of 24 with just two half-centuries. With Tamim not firing, Bangladesh have struggled to match the much fancied teams.
It was Tamim who famously played a role in knocking out India from the 2007 World Cup. Bangladesh was chasing a meagre total of 192 for a win over India. Tamim set the tone with a brisk 51 off 53 balls. Then Tamim had been in the Bangladesh squad for just three months. Since then, however, Tamim has disappointed as an international batsman. He has not kicked on to make it really big, especially in ODI cricket. His career returns of 3990 runs in 137 matches at a paltry average of 29.55 does not justify the talent the left-hander possesses.
In particular that is reflective in the way Bangladesh approach the challenge of playing major Test sides, especially in limited-overs sides. In the chase against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh pulled down the shutters quite early on with their negative approach. With Tamim not firing, the Bangladesh line-up majorly rely on their other two best batsmen – Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim – to fire in the middle-order. But Shakib and Mushfiqur were held back for some strange reason, so they ended up playing catch up when they were at the crease.
Surprisingly, Bangladesh seemed happy to play out the overs rather than compete in the contest. Bangladesh’s last win against a full member, excluding Zimbabwe, in November 2013 when they won an ODI series at home against New Zealand 3-0. Since then Bangladesh has played 13 ODIs and lost 12 of them, with one match against India being washed out. What’s more in this low phase, Bangladesh also lost to Afghanistan in the first-ever ODI between both sides in last year’s Asia Cup.
A 5-0 series whitewash of Zimbabwe at home in November 2014 somewhat retrieved the situation for Bangladesh, giving them hope in the lead-up to the World Cup. But Bangladesh’s old failings against the full members came back to haunt them against Sri Lanka on Thursday.
Bangladesh famously beat India and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup of 2012 to make the final of that tournament. They lost very narrowly by two runs in the final of Asia Cup 2012 to Pakistan. Then, Bangladesh appeared to have made some progress as an ODI team. They beat West Indies at home in a five-match ODI series 3-2, but after that, Bangladesh have just tapered off.
For world cricket indulging in a futile debate about a 10-team ODI World Cup in 2019, the bigger priority has to be about getting their full members in proper shape rather than spreading the game further.