Batsmen show no stomach for fight
Mirpur wore a forbidding grey on Tuesday. Rain made a promised appearance and disrupted play for two and half hours. The game resumed, but the sky refused to clear. Lateral movement was almost assured. This had become the first session of a Test, but neither India nor Bangladesh paid proper mind to the change in conditions.
The batsmen needed to be smart about their scoring areas. Survival should have taken precedence, especially when the match had been reduced to 41 overs and the D/L method placing a premium on wickets. Yet even a man in form like Robin Uthappa went for an awful hoick 14 balls after the rain break to lob a simple catch to mid-off. Tamim Iqbal, another opener, pranced down the track and nicked to the keeper. His target was only 106.
Stuart Binny wafted at a back of a length delivery wide outside off stump and edged it. Mahmudullah offered a lazy drive and his open face was snapped up at gully. This was not the average limited-overs encounter in the subcontinent. The ball was zipping about and it's holders only needed to place it in the right areas. The play was entirely in the batsmen's hands but neither team was willing to guts it out. In the end, the second ODI went down in history as the lowest scoring one for the loss of all 20 wickets.
Credit should be heaped on Bangladesh's 19-year old destroyer, Taskin Ahmed, but he was bowing at batsmen who had chosen to hit their way out of trouble when another rain interruption, or even a washout, could not be ruled out. The majority of Bangladesh's menace came in the form of two bowlers - the leader Mashrafe Mortaza and the debutant Taskin. India succumbed to their third-worst collapse in terms of overs faced.
Cheteshwar Pujara spent the longest time at the crease - 66 minutes of being beaten or enduring outside edges. He could not ferret out any singles. He had waited, but waited too long. The batsmen who followed him took a different route and only one of them reached double-figures. No one tried to bat the full 41 overs.
Bangladesh were worse, stumbling to their joint-worst score in ODIs. Binny's medium-pace combined well with the conditions and he had three wickets before he had completed his second over - a flick cut short by midwicket, an on-the-up drive caught at gully and a nick down leg to the keeper. Reward for persistent bowling without breaking a sweat. It was that sort of "damp and sticky" pitch that was "ideal to bowl" on, in the words of Binny himself, but an international game merited a better display by the batsmen.
At least that was what the sparse crowd had come in and stayed through the rain for. Every Bangladesh wicket had them clutching at their hair. The emotion seeped into the press box too, a merry place, even when the home side falls short of expectations. Today the atmosphere was tinged with additional excitement, born from seeing a genuine quick run through the opposition. The racket was loud and genial, their appreciation for Taskin's wholehearted display was as clear as the smile he wore when walking off the field. They were all wary, though, and in the end the happy buzz was gone, substituted by a jarring creaking of the chairs they were sat on.
It was bowlers' day out in Mirpur and they had nothing opposing them.