The end had come quickly at Eden Gardens. As thousands of Bangladeshi fans who had crossed the border to cheer for their team made a bee line for the exits, the last two wickets – Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed – fell in the space of three balls. One of the banners held up by Bangladesh’s fans had read: “Our aim is always next World Cup”, a dig at BCB president Nazmul Hassan’s comment from 2022. This campaign, with Bangladesh in ninth place, above England and below Netherlands, is all but over.
“You can say that [it is Bangladesh’s worst World Cup performance] without any doubt,” Shakib said after his team had been dismissed for 142 in the 43rd over while chasing only 230. “I don’t have an answer why we played this way. We were sloppy in the field. We bowled brilliantly. We haven’t batted the way we can bat throughout the tournament. It is a big concern. Today was another day when we totally gave the Dutch the two points. It is hard to swallow. It is very difficult to digest. These things can happen in cricket.”
He said only Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah were batting well, and agreed that Mahmudullah could have been given a higher position in the line-up. “As a batting unit, if you ask me to summarise our six matches, I would say that we were very poor. Other than Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim, all other batters were not up to the mark.
“If our batters did well at the top, Riyad [Mahmudullah] and Mushfiq could have performed their roles. I agree with you that maybe if Riyad bhai batted higher in the order, we could have done well. Other than that, we have all been disappointing.”
Bangladesh have been restricted to or dismissed for less than 250 in four of the last five games, with the 256 for 8 against India on a flat Pune surface being their highest score of the World Cup. The 142 on Saturday against Netherlands was their lowest.
“It could be,” Shakib said, when asked if the Tamim episode had affected the team. “It is not unusual. I don’t know what’s in everyone’s heart. I don’t disagree with you. It may have had an effect.
“It is quite natural for the plans to change when the captain and coach changes. It is difficult to keep the same plan. It can be good or bad plan. Everyone has a different thinking. We don’t know what’s wrong and right. It is difficult for me to say why our performance didn’t reflect how we played before.”
Shakib said Bangladesh’s lead up to the World Cup had not been challenging enough. “Team gets confidence after winning games regardless of conditions. We lost to England and Afghanistan recently. We won two series against Ireland. We haven’t done well in the Asia Cup if you leave aside the India win. We have underperformed in this World Cup too.
“We are not this bad a team. It could be the World Cup or this atmosphere, high expectations. It could be a lot of other things. We must find out, but if we work on it, we might find the answers.”
Bangladesh’s next fixture is also in Kolkata but Shakib did not sound positive when looking ahead to the match against Pakistan on October 31. “It is very hard to do a turnaround. It is very difficult. We have to try, and that’s all we have. It is very difficult to forget today’s game ahead of the next game.”