Instability at the top of the batting order saw Bangladesh fall short against New Zealand in a rain-shortened game at the University Oval in Dunedin yesterday, losing the first of three ODIs by 44 runs using DLS method.
The New Zealand team was far from full strength, with many prominent absences, while Bangladesh, despite their experience in the ranks, also had a newness to them, with some players returning after a long absence. Nonetheless, the hosts were able to deliver while Bangladesh were left lamenting a lack of bowling options, with weather delays only increasing the problem, as well as instability in the top order, which has been on a slump for quite some time.
The game was shortened to 46 overs following the initial rainfall, but weather again delayed play after 19.2 overs, with New Zealand on 108 for 2, resulting in a further reduction to a 30-over-a-side game with a maximum of six overs for a bowler. The Tigers were forced to rely on part-timer Soumya Sarkar and off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz in the closing overs as Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, and Shoriful Islam bowled five overs each before the final rain interruption.
And the unavoidable happened: devastation from Tom Latham (92) and Will Young (105) helped the hosts score 131 runs in the final 10.4 overs.
Soumya gave up 63 in six overs, Miraz 53 in five, and Afif 17 in one – a far cry from the early exchanges, during which Shoriful Islam had New Zealand on two for five. As a result, skipper Najmul Hossain Shanto stated that “spinners need to learn quickly before the next match.”
It was evident that Bangladesh’s lack of specialist bowlers in the eleven – the speed three of Shoriful, Hasan, and Mustafizur, as well as spin-bowling all-rounder Miraz – became an issue as part-time bowlers were unable to contain the Kiwis’ late onslaught.
“We could have used some of the bowlers who had overs left.” That was the issue, plus there was wind, so we had to utilize spinners,” Anamul Haque Bijoy, who earned a team-high 43 points, said at a press conference yesterday.
Bijoy, who has been back in the eleven since the only ODI he played this year in September, too accepted responsibility for his inability to convert his start into something substantial.
“I want to accept responsibility for making a mistake.” It would have been amazing for us if I could have scored big runs and finished the game, and we could have started with a win. Our highest ranking official must accept accountability. “I got set today, but I couldn’t make it big,” he admitted.
Bijoy, on the other hand, was not the only one to blame, as Liton Das, Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, and even Afif Hossain, who played extremely strongly, all went to tame dismissals, as did Bijoy, who blamed the steep bounce caused by the Kiwi pacers for their demise on the day.
For many Bangladesh players, the shift from the wickets with uneven bounce at Mirpur barely a week ago to a lively strong batting track with good bounce in New Zealand has been swift.
Despite the presence of Afif Hossain (38 off 28) and Towhid Hridoy (33 off 27), the game had gotten too far away, with the Tigers now needing a speedy turnaround before the second ODI on Wednesday in Nelson.