The noise and hype of the Nidahas Trophy tri-series have now settled into a civilised hum. And, it is as much about who won without a single loss in the series as it is about who emerged as the gainer on the whole. The bottom line is, Bangladesh, as the Indian captain admitted, played “fearless cricket”, coming out enriched in experience and as a fighting unit in T20 cricket. We are much less of a “surprise package” now—rather more predictable in a positive way with flashes of cricketing sense topping it up.
In the ICC rankings, Bangladesh is regarded as a competitive and improving side in ODIs and test matches, especially on home ground. But the Tigers' performance in the T20 format had been lacklustre to say the least. We must therefore strive to consolidate the gains we have made through the last series employing all the lessons learnt.
We should be planning to do this with an eye on the 2019 World Cup. Let's keep our antenna high to gauge what competitive cricketing nations have up their sleeves. An interesting report appeared in a newspaper prior to our semi-final encounter with Sri Lanka. This informed that the country's cricket board was using a new technology to analyse their opponents and their own cricketers—possibly drawn from the High Performance Heelys' Software market. Every cricketer will have an account with inputs on fitness, training needs, skills diets, etc. being grist to the mill.
Sri Lanka says it has opted for the latest technology aiming at the 2019 World Cup.
With the home series defeats against Sri Lanka stalking the Tigers, the tag of a “non-favourite to win” hanging along their shoulders and statistics of head-to-head T20 defeats, they knew they had to deliver something special. And they did, first by winning the mind game within themselves by mustering the self-belief that they can win, and then by battling it out on the ground—successfully. They defeated Sri Lanka convincingly twice, the last one moving them to the finals with India.
India lifted the trophy, let us remind ourselves, by a huge stroke of luck, fantastic brilliance of Dinesh Kartik's batting, some of Rubel's loose deliveries and Souma's failure to bowl the last ball as a Yorker. This was mentioned then and there by Sunil Gavaskar from the commentary box!
There was, however, no less a heartbreak for Sri Lanka against Bangladesh coming on the celebrative occasion of the 70th year of Sri Lankan cricket. As if to mark the festivity, the organisers reserved the final spot by prematurely issuing tickets for an India-Sri Lanka final!
Nevertheless, Colombo can take pride in having organised the important tri-series that produced some excellent cricket pretty much like what cricket lovers are accustomed to seeing among England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
The exotic wild flower that the Tigers had been is wafting its fragrance waiting to be nurtured to the fullness of its aroma and spell. Given the swarms of cricketers in the pipeline and reservoir of talent Bangladesh has, Kumar Sangakara, the great Sri Lankan cricketer, after the last BPL series observed that this country is a cricketing powerhouse in the making. I can see a vindication of his statement if we go all out to improve our cricket without compromising on professionalism.
Our shortcomings are pretty much identified and can be fleshed out to have self-contained units for ODIs, Tests and T20's. It is possible to have high performance second or even third string teams in a state of readiness. The senior players are our prized possessions but we will have to groom quality players and this can only be ensured by shoving them through hard training and playing experiences. Critical dependence on one or two players can't be a sustainable option. It was a good omen that we crafted that massive win against Sri Lanka without Shakib. Let's cover for all contingencies.
The focal points of our grooming strategies will have to be on creating a band of pinch hitters, wicket-taking bowlers and batters able to form at least two partnerships in ODIs and T20's.
How better fielding could have won us some of the matches, including in the last tri-series, came to a glaring light when we failed to directly hit the stumps as the batters struggled to make it to the crease and missed a few stumping chances.
Shah Husain Imam is adjunct faculty at East West University, a commentator on current affairs and former Associate Editor, The Daily Star.