The usual suspects who almost brought Bangladesh down
Although Bangladesh edged India in the most dramatic of finishes on Sunday, they would have to look back at some of the habitual mistakes they made while pursuing what should've been a straightforward chase.
The Tigers earned a hard-fought one-wicket victory at home in the first match of the three-match ODI series despite being on the driving seat for the majority of the game, and that too against the profiles of bowlers that India had lined up.
Mehedi Hasan Miraz emerged as the saviour for Bangladesh as he came in at eight following the dismissal of Mushfiqur Rahim in the 36th over as batted Bangladesh across the finish line with an unbeaten 39-ball 38 while stitching up a 51-run last-wicket stand with Mustafizur Rahman.
Bangladesh, following the dismissal of Liton Das and Shakib Al Hasan, in that order, were at 95-4 with 91 runs needed in 159 deliveries. After that came the middle-order stalwarts, number five Mushfiqur Rahim followed by Mahmudullah Riyad.
On a tricky wicket, the veteran batters faced serious struggles while trying to motor on the chase. But setting aside some glimpses of urgency or intent, Mushfiq and Mahmudullah soon got into their shell, absorbing unnecessary pressure playing a string of dot balls, a familiar trait that did not help their cause.
Mushfiq managed to grind out 18 runs off 45 balls and Mahmudullah took 35 deliveries for his 14 before he was trapped in front of a full-length half-volley on leg-stump off Shardul Thakur. Both batters batted at a strike-rate of 40 at the time of their dismissal.
Before Mahmudulah perished, the duo paired up for a 33-run stand but took a whopping 69 balls in between them as they slowed the game down, raising the nerves amongst the Bangladesh supporters and more importantly, the remaining batters in the dressing room.
The state of their struggle was somewhat a making of their own doing as they perhaps preferred to take it deep even when they were in a favourable position to take on the second-string India bowlers.
It often worked for them previously as they managed to dig deep and take their team through, but in cases like today's situation which did not demand an overly cautious approach, they chose to remain true to their subdued approach.
When they got dismissed in consecutive deliveries, with the Tigers at 128 for six, they had already chewed up 79 balls to churn out only 32 runs between them as Bangladesh would have been staring at the bottom of the barrel had it not been for Miraz's brilliance.
Skipper Liton, after his first win as captain, said that they were confident about scoring the runs while he and Shakib were batting. In addition, he said he never lost the belief in Miraz and Afif Hossain to get the job done but when measuring up Bangladesh's chances while Mushfiq-Mahmudullah were batting, the stand-in captain said he felt that the chase got tricky due to what the pitch was offering.
"I felt confident about getting the runs when me and Shakib were batting," Liton said while adding," When Mushfiq and Mahmudullah were batting, I felt it was tricky but I had belief in Afif and Miraz to get the job done."
Mushfiq and Mahmudullah's finishing mishaps is not entirely new, however. The most prominent incident that pops out is the 2016 T20 World Cup encounter against India where Bangladesh failed to get three runs off two balls and the experienced duo were the culprits as they were caught out in the deep in consecutive deliveries.
Mushfiqur's batting came under immense scrutiny in the Asia Cup 2022, which eventually prompted him to retire from the shortest format while Mahmudullah was stripped off the T20 captaincy role and axed from the squad following a string of poor results and dismal form with the bat.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has taken drastic measures to shake up the T20I side this year with changes in management, captaincy and personnel and might do the same in ODIs if results take a turn for the worse with the 2023 World Cup in mind.
As for Mushfiq and Mahmudullah, it seems that they have to prove themselves even more in the twilight of their careers, compared to what they had to in their budding years for Bangladesh cricket. With the latest dismal performances, the past glories that these legendary figures have achieved for Bangladesh are starting to fade away.