Few could imagine Bangladesh whitewashing the Kiwis 3-0, especially after New Zealand posted 300-plus in the third ODI. Bangladesh are not known to be good chasers, let alone a total in excess of 300 against a top team. But over the years, this Bangladesh team has gained self-belief. No matter how big the total is, how tough the opposition is, the Tigers just don't go down without a fight. That's how they have been able to hand two 'Banglawashes' in a row to New Zealand.
Just before the start of the ODI series, Bangladesh superstar Shakib Al Hasan went down with dengue fever. Shakib was instrumental in scripting that famous 4-0 series win against the Kiwis in 2010. Could Bangladesh do it without Shakib was a big question. In fact, in the past, if any of Bangladesh's main players got injured, it became quite tough to fill that gap.
But things seems to be improving on the Bangladesh bench. Star players still rule the roost but Bangladesh are learning to not just live but also win in their absence, largely due to some good young performers coming up the ranks. Naeem Al Islam filled in Shakib's place with clinical displays, while Tamim Iqbal's absence in the final ODI didn't affect the team thanks to young Shamsur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman.
It was encouraging to see Bangladesh not panicking, which has been a sea change in the side's approach in close finishes. In the past, Bangladesh have lost matches from winning positions. But this bunch of Bangladeshis seems to know how to hold their nerves, though their real test remains away from home.
Credit must be given to skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, who has proved to be the agent of this welcome change. He doesn't fear throwing youngsters into the line of fire, and so far they have come out stronger and as match-winners.
He starred with the bat under pressure and operated like a shrewd tactician on the field, with his thinking cap always on. Opening the bowling with Sohag Gazi, throwing the ball to Mominul Haque at a crucial juncture in the second ODI, investing faith in Rubel Hossain in the first ODI to dent Corey Anderson, placing fielders in the right positions to check the scoring rate - Mushfiqur's each move paid off in this series. But there will be days when things won't work according to his plans, that's when his character will be put to test.
First Published: November 4, 2013, 2:04 PM IST