Bangladesh v India 2015, 2nd ODI: Five Things We Learned From The Tigers Winning Their First Ever Bilateral Series Against The Men In Blue

Bangladesh v India 2015
This Bangladeshi side is not a flash in the pan

Bangladesh registered their first ever ODI bilateral series win over India, beating the Men In Blue by 6 wickets – according to the Duckworth-Lewis (D/L) method – at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur and taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 3-match series.

The home side continued from where they left off last Thursday, with India simply failing to come up with the answers to Bangladesh’s bold approach.

Bangladesh went into the game with an unchanged playing XI that fared flawlessly in the 1st game, while India made three changes – Ambati Rayudu replacing Ajinkya Rahane in the batting lineup, and Dhawal Kulkarni and Axar Patel coming in place of Mohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav in the bowling department – to the side that suffered a 79-run defeat 3 days ago.

MS Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat first on another good looking pitch in Mirpur, which aided stroke play and boasted of good pace and bounce for all the bowlers. It was never the kind of pitch that India should have got bowled out for 200 in the 45th over, with Shikhar Dhawan top scoring for them with 53 (60) and their skipper contributing 47 (75) to his team’s total.

Bangladesh’s bowlers stuck to their task and made life difficult for the visitors, who had another odd and poor day at the office. Mustafizur Rahman, for the second game in a row, was the star with the ball for the hosts, bowling a dream spell of 6/43 in his 10 overs and dismissing Rohit Sharma, Dhoni, Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Axar and Ravindra Jadeja. Nasir Hossain, the part time off spinner, picked up a couple of crucial wickets – Virat Kohli and Dhawan, while Rubel Hossain bagged the remaining two Indian wickets.

There was a 2 hour interruption due to rain during the Indian innings, and forced a reduction in overs to 47. Once play resumed, India, who were on 193/8 in the 44th over, lost their last two wickets for just 7 runs and ended up with a mere 200 on the board. However, according to the D/L method, the home side was required to score 200 for a victory.

Their openers – Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar – started off in grandiose fashion, scoring boundaries and taking the attack to the Indian bowlers, who were incensed by the young batsmen exhibiting such audacious batsmanship.

The Indian bowling attack could not get wickets consistently, and the home team was clever in the way it played India’s best bowler – Ravichandran Ashwin – giving him only a solitary wicket.

For the home side, Shakib Al Hasan top scored with 51 (62) while all other batsmen chipped in with crucial knocks that saw them coast to victory with a whopping 54 balls to spare.

Mustafizur was named the man-of-the-match for his magical spell once again, as his side pocketed the 3-match series with a game to go. From another significant point of view, Bangladesh, with their win last night, have now sealed their place in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy on virtue of being the currently 7th ranked ODI side ahead of 8th placed West Indies.

In hindsight, what did we learn from the game that went perfectly to plan for the Tigers?

Read on…

The visitors were rattled by the heavy defeat in the 1st ODI

After the poor display last Thursday, when India failed as a unit, changes were expected for yesterday’s game that the visitors needed to win to stay alive in the series.

All the Indian seamers were expensive in the first ODI, in which they just couldn’t have any control whatsoever against the belligerent Bangladeshi batsmen.

Putting things into perspective, however: Bhuvneshwar Kumar has just made a comeback into the playing XI after playing very little cricket during India’s tour of Australia and also in their World Cup campaign; Yadav has the overwhelming propensity to be expensive even when he is bowling well and looks menacing, and there was nothing surprising about his poor display in the first ODI while Mohit had an absolute nightmare after enjoying a superb World Cup campaign, in which he picked up 13 wickets from 8 outings for the eventual semifinalists.

In my preview piece, I strongly felt that Dhoni would make one change – in the bowling department – to India’s playing combination and find a way to attain parity in the series with the home side. But his decision to drop three of India’s key players in their World Cup campaign, was uncalled for and indicative of Bangladesh winning the mental battle between the sides.

India’s problems yesterday stemmed from the fact that their replacements weren’t going to bring them anything different to what they had in the 1st ODI, and therefore, the team selection needed to have some perspective instead of blind axing of players who have been in form for you lately.

At the end of the game, none of the players who replaced Rahane, Mohit and Yadav, made a positive impact on proceedings for India and it begs to wonder why Dhoni, who is normally keen to stick with the same playing XI, made such radical changes after one poor display.

Indian batsmen lacked innovation against the clever Bangladeshi bowlers

Continuing on from the last point, Bangladesh’s performance in the 1st ODI had definitely set the alarm bells ringing in the visitors’ camp, and it was always going to take a monumental effort from India to beat the hosts yesterday.

Rohit, who has been a good ODI player for India in the last 12-18 months, was dismissed in the second delivery of the match by Mustafizur and the home side couldn’t have asked for a better start. The Mumbai batsman’s significance lies in his ability to anchor the innings and have the other stroke makers – Kohli, Dhawan and Raina, to name a few – in the side play their natural game. As a result, it was a major scalp for Bangladesh, who didn’t look back since being gifted the wicket by Rohit.

The Bangladeshi bowlers attempted plenty of variation in pace during the first half of India’s innings and, for a brief while, things got a bit predictable during Kohli and Dhawan’s partnership, which was able to score runs quickly after weathering the initial storm, helping India go at 6 runs-per-over and render that much needed momentum to the innings.

However, barring Kohli and Dhawan, batsmen who scored at strike rates in excess of 85 runs/100 balls, no other Indian batsman tried to get on top of the bowlers and change the course of a game that was going only one way.

Dhoni walked in at No.4 at the fall of Kohli’s wicket, but he has not been in good form lately – having had a poor World Cup and largely unimpressive Indian Premier League (IPL) season – and it showed during his innings yesterday. The Indian skipper usually starts off slowly, trying to put bat to ball and get a feel of the prevalent conditions. But his traditional approach was not what the Indian innings needed, and the Bangladeshi bowlers didn’t have to alter their game plan.

His innings of 47 (75) was counterproductive to India looking to set a sizeable total for Bangladesh, who also managed to keep the likes of Raina and Jadeja – who scored their runs at strike rates of 61.8 and 73.7, respectively – quiet.

I am in no way suggesting that the Indian batsmen should have thrown their willows at every ball they faced, but with their sedate approach to facing the Bangladesh bowlers, they invited pressure onto themselves and then gave their wickets away, as well, playing tenuous shots.

The home side’s approach to the chase was spot on

Having been set a modest total of 200 to win the game and go on to seal the series, Bangladesh took the aggressive approach to the chase, depriving India of a chance to claw their way back into the game.

Tamim, like he did in the first ODI, stepped out of his crease on many occasions in order to unsettle the Indian new ball bowlers – Bhuvneshwar and Kulkarni – who sprayed it around for much of their respective first spells. At the other end, Sarkar was also aggressive to start off with, and though such an approach kept the Indian bowlers and fielders interested, the scoreboard was ticking along slickly and the home side got off to ‘the’ ideal start.

Kulkarni dismissed Tamim in his second over and the 7th over of Bangladesh’s innings, getting the southpaw to slash at a delivery bowled well outside off stump and have him caught at first slip.

Litton Das then walked in and didn’t waste any time trying to settle down; instead, he got after Bhuvneshwar straight away, milking him for singles and also punching him for some delightful boundaries. He may have wanted to play a longer innings, but his 36 (41) was well paced and made sure that Bangladesh were progressive in their pursuit of 200.

Every Bangladesh batsman, one who was settled at the crease or had just walked in, made it a point to play freely and look for runs from the outset, and such a positive mindset was crucial in them taking care of the business and, as aforementioned, also making sure that India didn’t stop them in their tracks.

Dhoni didn’t have the bowlers to get him 10 Bangladesh wickets

I just wonder whether Dhoni and the Indian think tank gave this a thought before they picked the playing XI for yesterday’s game, or whether they changed the personnel for the sake of it.

Indian bowlers, other than Ashwin, bowled miserably in the 1st ODI and were a major concern ahead of the 2nd game. However, the Indian squad for the tour of Bangladesh didn’t have variety to it, either in the batting or bowling department. Therefore, some kind of thought should have been given towards altering the playing XI.

Axar sounds a valuable player who could score some runs lower down the order, and also bowl economically. But is he a wicket-taker who India were after? Well, he does not spin the cricket ball and against the aggressive Bangladeshi batsmen, who are no slouches to playing spin, I wouldn’t have played him, considering that Jadeja is similar to his style of bowling and had not troubled the home side in the first ODI.

Shifting focus to Kulkarni, the other change in the bowling department, I don’t think his bowling style is different to Mohit’s. Both the bowlers rely on good lines and lengths to trouble the batsmen, and neither of them bowls at great speeds to suggest that they could be used as weapons. Again, I don’t think it was the right move.

Both Axar and Kulkarni picked up a wicket each while conceding a whopping 90 runs from their combined 14 overs, leaving the other bowlers with too much to do.

Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar have been struggling with the ball, meaning the onus was on Ashwin to pick wickets and set some panic in the hosts’ camp. But then, as aforementioned, they were smart enough to not take undue risk against the off spinner and give away their wickets.

Simply put: Dhoni and India didn’t have the bowlers who would have helped them pick wickets, irrespective of whether the home side batted first or second.

Bangladesh cricket is probably on the path to experiencing more such days

With their victory over India yesterday, Mashrafe Mortaza’s side has now won their last 10 home games on the trot, which is also the first time they have achieved such a feat.

The manner of this victory should banish all talks of the 3-0 whitewash over Pakistan last month being a fluke. Because Bangladesh, with their supreme twin performances against India, have shown that they are an organized side under Mortaza’s captaincy and believe in their ability to compete against world class opposition.

Although some would say that their bowling has been the cornerstone to these victories over India, who haven’t managed a score of 250 or more in the 2 games, I think they have grown into a good batting side since the World Cup. They have not tasted enough success in the past because of their overwhelming tendency to capitulate as a batting unit. We need not go too long down the memory lane to reminisce Bangladesh getting bowled out for 58 against a second string Indian side only last year, and looking at what they did as a batting lineup during the World Cup in Australia and now in their last two ODI series’, it is easy to see why they have been successful.

The likes of Sarkar, Litton and Sabbir Rahman bring great excitement to their own supporters, as well as to the neutral’s eye, and I hope that they continue in the same vein of form they have shown in the series’ against Pakistan and India. If Bangladesh need to win more silverware and compete against the best in the major ICC competitions, it is their batting that has to continue delivering the goods.

Coming to their bowling department, Taskin Ahmed and Rubel Hossain are going to be the leaders of their side’s bowling attack that has a wonderful blend of pace and spin to it. In Mortaza, they have got more of a mentor who will do a good job whenever he bowls, but the 31-year old is probably not going to lead the attack. Mustafizur has had a dream start to life as an international cricketer, and he is only 19 years old; you would think that he will broaden his bowling repertoire as he spends more time alongside Heath Streak and also features regularly for the national side.

Of course, India have been shambolic during this series, but Bangladesh need not look at what their opponents have done. In contrast, they have played with maturity, vigor and controlled aggression, and if they continue to play like this, South Africa, their next opponents, could well be on the receiving end of it, too.

Final Thought

Most of us anticipated an Indian backlash in the second one-dayer, even though Bangladesh played so well in the first ODI and were good value for their 79-run victory. But, with the momentum they have had since the start of the Pakistan series, Mortaza’s men were always going to be tough to beat and their performance in the second one-dayer surely had the cricket world stand up and take notice.

From India’s perspective, it is difficult to understand the reason for their appalling batting displays in the two ODIs. Against a hostile South African bowling attack in Melbourne, they managed to post a total in excess of 300, and although no two tournaments are the same, the Indian batting lineup didn’t have the necessary blueprint in place, against a very organized and potent Bangladeshi attack.

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