Going by the sheer records the just concluded Zimbabwe Tour Of Bangladesh from different aspects would go down as one of the most successful tour in its cricket history. Bangladesh won series across all three formats for the first time on tour against Zimbabwe.
Bangladesh cricket for different reasons was going through a very lean patch. Setting aside the ODI series wins against understrength West Indies and Sri Lanka Bangladesh was on losing streak in all formats both at home and on tour against all teams. No to speak the diabolic performances against Pakistan, India and New Zealand, Bangladesh lost test against Afghanistan and understrength West Indies at home. In such a situation the wins against sparring partner Zimbabwe would act as a tonic.
Bangladesh in all three formats is way above Zimbabwe in ICC ranking. With four highly experienced players of international quality and some talented young talents Bangladesh was favored to win across all formats. Bangladesh only did justice winning all the series. But a bit understrength Zimbabwe must also be given due credit that it contested in all format and even won a match in T20 series. This write-up would objectively assess the performance of Bangladesh. Bangladesh in the third T20 playing 9 left hand batsmen created a new record.
One Of Test:
Among all formats Bangladesh continued struggling in test cricket. In over twenty years of playing test cricket Bangladesh could not find a way of forming a sustainable test team. It could not even develop enabling infrastructure for test cricket. The domestic cricket structure, wickets, first class matches, facilities are well below all other major test playing countries. There is no definite plan for improving domestic cricket formats for developing a sustainable test team. Consequently, for the last several years Bangladesh was going through a losing cycle. From that consideration Bangladesh surviving the initial reverse of the lone test and winning the only test comfortably was a commendable achievement. Off course lack of depth in both bowling and batting of the home team let Bangladesh off the hook.
Superlative batting performance of test discard Mahmudullah Riad (career best unbeaten 150. Liton K Das and Taskin set the foundation. Taking advantage of lean home team bowling resources Shaman Islam and Nazmul Shanto batted brilliantly in the second innings (both scored centuries). But the main achievement of the test was Bangladesh bowling attack taking twenty wickets in the test. But the test also proved that Bangladeshi batsmen still has to learn how to deal with new red cherry on a pacey, bouncy wicket in seaming, swinging condition.
ODI is the strongest forte of Bangladesh. Zimbabwe lags way behind. Achieving series whitewash was indeed an achievement. Bangladesh lost the services of its best batsman Mushfiqur Rahim through injury. Tamim also played defying his bad knee. Mustafiz also struggled a bit with injury. Surprisingly Zimbabwe improved match after match. Bangladesh top struggled but sometimes Liton, other time Tamim, Shakib, Mahmudullah rescued. Sohan looked impressive on return. Shoriful, Taskin, Mehidy and Shakib looked formidable bowling combination.
However, winning all three ODIs and achieving whitewash was a great achievement. 30 points from 3 matches consolidated Bangladesh position in the ICC ODI super league points table. However, top order remained a bit of bother. Sohan, Afif and Saifuddin in the late middle order started delivering. Team should consider slotting Mahmudullah Riad a bit higher in the batting order. In white ball formats Shakib, Mushfique and Mahmudullah should bat at 3,4 and 5 in immediate future.
Perhaps Bangladesh got a little fatigued for playing a bit too much cricket in too short a period. Also unaccustomed Bangladesh players lacked fitness. Injuries started appearing.
Bangladesh won the first match easy restricting home team to a low score and then Naim and Soumya batting brilliantly won the match easy by 8 wickets. Zimbabwe bounced back strongly in the second match defending a not too high a target. Bangladesh batting collapsed being a little bit complacent. However, a new star Shamim was born. His brief spell showed sign of a great finisher.
This being his debut he could not take his team across the rope. Zimbabwe won the second match by 23 runs. However, Bangladesh recovered well in the third match. On a flat deck improving Zimbabwe batting aggressively set a challenging target of 194. Bangladesh executing a great batting plan won the match scoring 194/5. Shoumya, Riad, Shakib laid the foundation in the chase. Afif and in particular Shamim won the match and the series for Bangladesh.
Any win must not be underestimated. But wins against weak Zimbabwe must not make Bangladesh complacent. Rather Zimbabwe should also be credited for improving match after match and creating contest to some extent in all formats. Two more good quality batsmen and two more good bowlers could create greater challenges.
Gains Of The Series and Way Forward: Bangladesh won 3 series in 3 different formats with little contributions of Mushfique, Mustafiz and Tamim, Shakib recovered his world-class form once again. Mahmudullah again proved why he is still essential in all formats. Mehidy bowled brilliantly. Liton delivered what is always expected of him. Soumya also produced all round contribution. Shamim Hossain was the discovery of the series. Afif, Sohan, Shoriful and Taskin continued to impress in their respective area.
Bangladesh must execute from lessons learnt from the tour in the upcoming series against Australia, New Zealand and England. The matches against the three very strong teams would present far stronger challenges, with too much cricket in too short a time Bangladesh must smartly utilize reserve strength.
BDST: 1300 HRS, JUL 26, 2021