Bangladesh were not supposed to lose even a single One-Day International to Zimbabwe in their tour. They didn't even have any nightmares about it.
But they did. They didn’t just lose one, they lost two. To a side that was eight places below them in the rankings. Against a team, they hadn’t lost a match in nine years, in 19 matches.
Anamul Haque, after returning to Dhaka, said they were surprised after the first match, and they were panicked as they started to lose the second.
“We were quite surprised after losing the first match. We couldn’t perform to our expectations in Zimbabwe. It was upsetting. We were a bit nervous when we saw the second match going in their favour. I think that it was a series, where we couldn’t give our 100 per cent,” he said upon his arrival in Dhaka on Friday.
The series, lost 2-1, was a proper reality check for Bangladesh, and a few of their players. But as it happens in this country, who cares what’s going wrong?
Mahmudullah Riyad proved to be a tumour for the team with his batting. He managed an unbeaten 80 off 84 deliveries in the second match, but the hidden data is that he played 36 dot balls in total, and had scored only 27 off the first 50 balls he played. That resulted in Bangladesh posting 291, and losing the series.
In the third ODI, Mahmudullah cranked it up a gear (?) as he played 69 balls to score 39 runs, all while Anamul Haque and Afif Hossain were comfortable at the other end.
But yet, there are no talks about Mahmudullah being dropped. Not even from Twenty20 Internationals. The veteran batsman was indeed picked for the Asia Cup 2022, and while rumours suggest it might be his last chance, there have been a plethora of last chances in the Bangladesh cricket fraternity over the years, and Mahmudullah is unlikely to be the exemption.
Also, Mushfiqur Rahim must carry some burden as he was one of those responsible for the defeat in the first ODI, along with skipper Tamim Iqbal.
Mushfiq, coming in to bat in the latter stages of the innings, scored 52 off 49 deliveries, and Bangladesh ended on 303 despite losing just two (three including Liton Das retiring hurt) wickets. And skipper Tamim scored 40 off his first 49 balls, and then took 30 balls to reach his fifty.
While Tamim has been in denial of his batting impacting the match results, it was another piece of evidence that his ‘slow and steady till I reach my 100’ approach is clearly out of sorts and is only hampering the team’s performance.
Anamul was a fresh breath of air as the right-handed batsman, returning to the side after a record-breaking Dhaka Premier League season, showed clear signs of intent to accelerate and score at a healthy rate in the middle order.
But questions must be asked of Mustafizur Rahman. The once prodigal son has taken his spot in the team for granted, and while he took four wickets in the final game, his performance in the first ODI and the prior T20I series was horrible, to say the least.
The same questions should be asked about Shoriful Islam, who has been reported to have created a negative image among the management with his attitude, which was also evident in the field.
On the other hand, Hasan Mahmud and Ebadot Hossain both impressed with the white ball as they managed to not just pick wickets, but also put the batsman in trouble.
But the biggest loss from this series was Liton, who strained his hamstring during the first ODI and will now go on to miss the Asia Cup.
And while he is missing, Bangladesh will face a lot of trouble. But who cares, because he is not one of the great five.