Sri Lanka plundered 210 runs in what was Bangladesh's first-ever International game at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium yesterday. And the brief fireworks on top of the grass bank, which was understandably done to mark the special occasion, hardly matched the evening pyrotechnics of the visiting team much to the disappointment of a packed audience. If you are a follower of Bangladesh cricket you could easily guess that the game as a contest was all but over. Your prior knowledge of Bangladesh's highest successful chase, 165 against the West Indies, is an event that happened long ago in 2007. So it was hardly surprising that they limped to a 75-run loss yesterday.
Bangladesh have never been even a decent team in the shortest format of the game. They hardly have the understanding of how to bowl in a T20 game. They also lack the necessary understanding of how to build a T20 innings. And this particular game can give you plenty of evidence to establish those statements.
The Lankans were not forceful when they came out to bat on a beautiful wicket where the ball came on nicely. What they did was use the length ball in their merry way and the Bangladesh bowlers, save left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam, kept on feeding them. Young right-arm pace bowler Mohammed Saifuddin, who was punished in the first game, hardly learnt from his mistakes. He went for 46 runs in his four overs. Local boy Abu Jayed, who made his Bangladesh debut yesterday, also paid the price of feeding length balls after he was hit for a six off what was a slightly wayward yorker.
Left-arm pace bowler Mustafizur bowled a brilliant 17th over, in which he conceded just three. That raised Bangladesh's hopes of restricting the Lankans below the 200-run mark. But he was also the culprit of feeding those length deliveries in the 19th over when he was struck for four boundaries. Young off-spinning all-rounder Mahedi Hasan was hit for 25 runs in his two overs. He might learn from his Sri Lankan counterpart Akila Dananjaya how to bowl with the new ball.
After winning the toss Bangladesh opted to field understandably because it was tough to grip the ball under the floodlights when excessive dew becomes a big factor. But they are certainly not Australia, who made New Zealand's 244 a simple chase in a recent Trans-Tasman tri-series game. They are also not Sri Lanka, who turned Bangladesh's highest score – 193 -- an easy chase only a few days ago.
Sri Lanka opener Kusal Mendis struck a 42-ball 70 but he never looked like he was trying to hit the ball hard. He used his feet with great control to demonstrate some exquisitely clean hitting. They had their understanding of how to exploit the first six Powerplay overs, making sure that whenever they were hitting the ball they were hitting it hard. They also showed that they have the skill to exploit the last five overs.
Unfortunately, Bangladesh do not have a set of players with a good understanding of the T20 format nor the muscle to execute it. There are only a couple of players capable of scoring a fifty off 25 balls. Nor are there batsmen like Dasun Shanaka (30 off 11 balls), let alone a Thisara Perera (31 off 17 balls) at the back end of a batting line-up that plays ODI, Test and T20Is at almost the same pace.
During the innings break a cricket expert said that losing three wickets on this pitch should constitute a crime. Bangladesh lost three wickets for 22 runs in the first three overs. He was understandably considering Bangladesh as an exception. Bangladesh will head for the tri-series in Sri Lankan next month where India will be the third team. God bless the Tigers over there.