What just happened? Bangladesh just completed their highest ever ODI run chase, and did it in 41 overs losing just 3 wickets, doing it against one of the best fast bowling attacks in the world. It was 8 runs short of the highest score they’ve ever scored in their history, their 5th highest total out of 366 innings. This shouldn’t be possible. If it was India, you’d say fair enough, on a good day they can do this. England right now would have done it most of the time. Australia would have been a chance. South Africa, if they can recover their form, could do it. West Indies would be a chance. Even New Zealand might do it. Pakistan might do it occasionally. But not Bangladesh. This isn’t supposed to be possible.
In fairness, Bangladesh are ranked higher than West Indies, so this doesn’t count as an upset so much as a surprise. West Indies are one of Bangladesh’s worst teams, having beaten them just 14 times in 37 tries, and never in England. They did beat them 3 times in a row in Ireland last month, though. It’s just that West Indies were on a roll. They beat New Zealand easily in the warm-up, then beat Pakistan easily, then nearly beat Australia. Bangladesh have been losing to everyone.
Shakib al Hasan is in great form, sure, and right now is on track for player of the tournament, but 4 good scores out of 4? 124 off 99? That’s absurd. And for Liton Das to go with him at the end with 94 off 69? They don’t have good batting – they rely more on their bowling. They can’t score quickly. Yet here they are, doing everything they’re not supposed to be able to do, living up to their own hype.
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Five Things We Learned:
(1) Maybe Bangladesh aren’t the worst team in the tournament
I had picked them pre-tournament to finish last and to lose every match, and, with this being one of those matches, I naturally picked them to lose this one. It was always a winnable match and, had they restricted West Indies to say 220 or 240, which looked like happening early on, I would have believed this result. Just the same, they now have 2 wins out of 4 completed matches, which puts them in 5th spot out of 10 and just outside of the semi-finals.
(2) Shakib al Hasan is currently the best player in the world
In 4 games in a row he has batted out of his skin. He has not had a bad game or even an average game. This is better than he has played at any stage in his career, and he was already a very good player and the best that Bangladesh has ever produced by a long way. This is absurd. He is on track to win the player of the tournament award. Not only did he score a match-winning unbeaten century but he also took 2 wickets and helped to tie West Indies down so that they had a manageable total to chase. 321 didn’t look manageable at the half-way stage but it turned out to be something they could chase easily.
(3) West Indies perhaps didn’t take this seriously enough
For the first section of the match they batted far too slowly, taking too few risks, in case they lost too many wickets. They figured that 321 was enough. After losing just 1 wicket early, that of Chris Gayle, they thought it was best to play it safe and conserve wickets. They also didn’t play a spinner or a 6th bowler, leaving Carlos Braithwaite out and his replacement batsman didn’t even come out until number 8 in the batting order. They did a lot of things wrong.
(4) This wasn’t an upset
It’s not an upset when you’re ranked higher. Maybe ICC’s rankings are accurate and West Indies are the 9th best team in the world while Bangladesh are the 7th best. I mean, we all disputed those figures when we saw Bangladesh beaten badly by India in the warm-up, while West Indies trounced New Zealand but their actual rankings suggested that Bangladesh should have been favourites. They weren’t, but that’s perhaps a bit of a sentimentality and perhaps a nod to their form.
(5) Can Bangladesh make the semi-finals?
Had West Indies won, we’d be asking that question of West Indies and the answer would probably have been “yes”, but can we automatically say the same thing of Bangladesh? The problem for Bangladesh is that they’ve already lost to 2 teams. The good thing is that both of those teams (England and New Zealand) are in the top 4. So they only need to beat 1 of the teams above them (either Australia or India) and they are a chance. Or they could just win all of their remaining matches. The problem is that Afghanistan usually beats them. As does Pakistan. Bangladesh won’t be favourites in any of their remaining 4 matches, and they’ll need to win at least 3 of them. Their next match is against Australia. They’ll need to win that one to be a real chance. And they are massive underdogs against the in-form reigning champions and 5-time World Cup winners. If they can beat Australia, somehow, then they should beat Afghanistan, then India will be tough, and Pakistan is nerve-wracking as their final match. Surely there’s no way that they can beat India or Australia, but they’ll have to beat at least one of them to make it, ideally both. It’s tough, very tough. But they weren’t supposed to win this match either, or the one against South Africa.