Exactly one month ago Australia claimed their record fifth T20 World Cup title by defeating India. While the new entrant Thailand left everyone surprised with their gesture, Bangladesh were inch close to making an upset – defeating heavy-weight New Zealand. From the final between India and Australia which witnessed a record attendance of more than 80,000 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to the centuries of Heather Knight and Lizee Lee, the ICC T20 World Cup 2020 was successful in every way possible.
But, in the end, we only remember the winner, don’t we?
However, there are those teams too which has shown immense improvement in recent past and Bangladesh team were one of them. They had played 13 T20I games in 2019 and emerged victorious in 10. While this included the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier and South Asian Games, it also witnessed the centuries of Nigar Sultana Joty and Fargana Hoque.
They registered convincing win in the T20 Quadrangular Series earlier this year in India also. Then why they failed to do well in the big stage every time? Is that the lack of exposure or fear to face the top teams?
In a recent chat with Women’s CricInsight, Bangladesh Head Coach Anju Jain, Assistant Coach Devieka Palshikaar and star performer Nigar Sultana Joty shared their views on the World Cup and Bangladesh’s performance in the tournament.
Bangladesh started their campaign against India – an opponent they had faced before. But they failed to have the last laugh. While they failed to restrict India’s new batting sensation Shafali Verma (39 off 17) at the beginning of the powerplay, it was Veda Krishnamurthy whose quickfire 20 off 11 took India to 142 for 6 in 20 overs. While Devieka Palshikaar said bowling could have been better at the end, Joty gave the credit to Veda.
“I would say a few bowling changes would have helped. Rumana bowled two overs great but for the remaining two overs she could have been a better option in the final 5 overs,” said the assistant coach.
“India did well in the powerplay and the last 5 overs. But in the middle, we could have done well. We could have dismissed Shafali early but we couldn’t and Veda played a quickfire innings at that end which caused the difference, otherwise, the score would have been around 130,” shared Joty.
While chasing, Bangladesh opener Murshida Khatun scored 30 off 26. Apart from her, Nigar Sultana Joty scored a 26-ball 35 with 5 boundaries. Their experienced all-rounder Rumana Ahmed came down the order. However, Joty’s untimely dismissal and lack of support at the end cost the game.
“Although we reached Australia much early, we didn’t get match practice as it was raining heavily in Gold Coast where we had our initial camps. We had indoor sessions only. For the last 5 overs, we were little doubtful whether she will be able to take those quick runs as that was the requirement initially and she was coming from an injury. We had more confidence in Jahanara Alam and Fahima Khatun as they have batted in that situation for the last six months whenever we played. The situation demanded that and nothing else,” revealed Palshikaar.
Meanwhile, Joty also echoed her coach’s voice, citing, “We don’t have the temperament to finish the game while keeping our nerves in the big stages like World Cup since we didn’t play against the big teams. While (Shafali) Verma scored in the opening for India, Murshida (Khatun) did for us. Or the way Jemimah (Rodrigues) scored, I did. But we didn’t have the support what India had in the form of Veda (Krishnamurthy). I think I got out in a very wrong time. Had I been there, the result might have been different.”
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Despite losing the series opener against India, Australia bounced back well and showed their class against Bangladesh in their first-ever face-off. Bangladesh had never played against the number 1 team and Australia completely outplayed their opponent. It started with the openers – Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney.
Healy smashed a blitzy 83 off 53 with 10 fours and 3 sixes before her dismissal and Mooney scored a stunning 81* off 58 with 9 fours. Ashleigh Gardner also scored a quickfire 9-ball 22* as Bangladesh managed to dismiss only Healy that too in the 17th over. However, their head coach Anju Jain said that the Aussies were “better prepared” and “played some class innings”.
— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) February 27, 2020
“We had never face Australia and New Zealand before. We missed catches. If we could restrict them around 130, we could have tried. But 180 was too much and we didn’t do well in the fielding as well,” shared Jain.
But Bangladesh were never afraid of facing Australia for the first time as “they were quite confident”, said Devieka. Although lack of experience affected them in the game, shared Joty.
“It’s not that they didn’t play against Australia, it’s just whatever plans we had against them that didn’t work for us. The execution from bowlers was not upto the mark and then fielding as well. Once if you don’t get a good start in bowling and batting, this happened. If we would have taken one or two wickets within 6-7 overs, the situation would have been different,” expressed Palshikaar.
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However, they showed a great performance against the White Ferns. They made some changes which worked for them. They brought the medium-pacer Ritu Moni who registered the second-best bowling performance of the tournament after Shashikala Siriwardene, 4-0-18-4.
Certainly, there was a reason for her inclusion. Despite having a strength over spin, they went with her since their key pacer Jahanara Alam failed to do well. Moreover, New Zealand struggled against slow bowling and Ritu Moni can swing the ball well.
“We bowled and fielded well. New Zealand struggled against slow bowling and Ritu Moni is the one who can bowl little slow with full control. She can bring the ball in and away as well and that paid off,” said Anju Jain.
W . . 1 | 1 W W . 1 . | 1 1 . 4 W . | 1 . . 4 1 . | W 1 1 2 W 1 | 1 1 1 W 1 . | 1 W
— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) February 29, 2020
Bangladesh restricted New Zealand within 91 on the back of Ritu’s 4-wicket haul, Salma Khatun’s 3 for 7 and Rumana’s 2 for 17. However, they failed big time while chasing. Apart from Murshida Khatun (11), Ritu Moni (10) and Nigar Sultana Joty (21), others failed to reach the double-figure. While Joty was trying to steady the ship, she got badly injured and two consecutive run-outs ended the hope of their win.
“Joty’s injury can be one of the reasons but that not an excuse. Because we had that much batting so one player getting injured doesn’t mean we would lose the game. After her injury, two main batters got run-out and that can be the cause of losing the game. By the time Joty came, there were only 3 overs left. Had she been there maybe that could have made little difference,” explained Palshikaar.
However, Joty was also upset after the game who was the only positive while chasing. She also shared her injury and what was going in her mind at that time.
“I tried to play a sweep shot and the ball got an edge and hit in between my neck and throat. Suddenly my head started spinning and I sat down, feeling breathless. I started losing my vision and my hands and feet were numb. The physios thought I had a concussion,” shared Joty.
“The medical team took me a place from where I was able to watch the game. At that time, we lost a couple of wickets as well. I wanted to go back on the field but the doctors were not allowing me to do so. Then our team physio came to my rescue who took the risk for me as I was adamant to play. She had to give in written and then I got the chance to play. Restricting New Zealand within 100 and not chasing the total was so disheartening. I could have done well if I got the support,” she further added.
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Among the big teams, Bangladesh only got to play against Pakistan. Despite trying their best, they failed to win the series and lack of exposure has been affecting their games as well. According to Joty, how to win games in crucial situations can only be learnt with more competitive games. Their limited games have somehow been restricting their growth.
They have been doing well in the bilateral series or quadrangular series but failed to convert that in the big stage. The gap can only be bridged when they get to play against those big teams regularly. If not them, at least their A teams so that it wouldn’t feel the bigger stage, shared the head coach. She also added that they’re talented and they have shown the improvement since the last World T20.
Among a few negatives, there were a couple of positives too and Murshida Khatun, the left-handed opener is one of them. Murhida was groomed under the guidance of both the coaches for the last one year since the South Africa Emerging tour. Although she failed to provide with much support to her side throughout the tournament, her free-flowing shots certainly gave the relief to the team for the opening slot.
“She is a key learner and there is a lot of improvement since her beginning in South Africa in terms of batting, fitness and fielding. She is a very good prospect for the future. There was not much left-hander and we short-listed her since our May-June camp,” expressed the head coach.
While the lack of competitive games is one of the reasons for their failure, there are a few areas which they need to work on. According to the assistant coach Devieka Palshikaar, they need to learn to take up the pressure and also they have to be little more confident as well. Even the head coach Anju Jain also shared that they need to get the mindset right and urged to Bangladesh Cricket Board to prepare a calendar for them.
On the other hand, the wicket-keeper batter Nigar Sultana Joty gave the credit to her coaches for her performance in the World Cup. She was the highest run-getter from her side – 114 runs in 4 innings.
Praising the coaches, she said, “Both Anju ma’am and Devieka ma’am had plans which certainly worked for us and they know who can do what. They motivated us even when we lost those games in the World Cup. They know what we need and our relations helped us to do good.”
However, the national league was about to begin for the players which have been suspended for the time being due to the global pandemic – COVID-19 and its future can only be decided later.