Since 2011, in bilateral series, Bangladesh have been superb in bilateral series. They won a five-match ODI series against a strong West Indies side and drew 1-1 against a competent Sri Lankan unit in their own den. On a serious note, in the 50-over format, the critics had started to regard Bangladesh as a fiercely competitive side capable of beating superior teams. But the problem with the Tigers is, whenever they start to gain a fine rhythm, surprisingly, they tend to disturb it.
A fine run in bilateral series came to end in the third and final ODI against Zimbabwe on Wednesday when the hosts comprehensively beat Bangladesh by seven wickets. It seems quite unusual to lose a series against a side that is not as well equipped and experienced as Bangladesh. But experience and star performers don't bear enough importance if proper application is not exhibited. Bangladesh were beaten by a side who were more determined and responsible.
The Tigers started the ODI series with a commanding 121-run win but it was not flawless by any means. The top order's rashness and irresponsible shot selection had jolted Bangladesh's brilliant start as from 65 for 0 they succumbed to 94 for 4. But as usual a late surge from Nasir Hossain and Mahmudullah helped them post a fighting total, and then Ziaur Rahman's bowling proved too much for Zimbabwe who lost their way.
Crucially, Zimbabwe went ahead and worked on their gray areas while Bangladesh remained complacent as ever. The top and middle order apparently didn't put enough work into rectifying their mistakes. In fact, in the remaining two ODIs which were played on beautiful batting tracks, they went from bad to worse.
Rather than being composed, they kept on sacrificing their wickets as cheaply as toilet napkins. And again, the lower order's fruitful and staggering contributions brought them back into the game. But on a batting-friendly track, any score less than 300 is never safe. Had the top and middle order contributed alongside the lower blitz, then surely on both occasions the scores would have been above 300.
While the Bangladeshi top order was found rusty, the Zimbabwean top and middle order was much more responsible and composed. They never repeated the mistakes made in the first ODI and adapted themselves superbly well according to the circumstances. This time around the batting hero was not the reliable Brendan Taylor but Vusi Sibanda, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams and the wily Hamilton Masakadza. They chased down Bangladesh's total with grit and stamina leaving the bowlers clueless.
A team which hardly gets a chance to play at the highest level, a team which is marred by financial crisis and a team boasting only two or three quality players toppled a unit brimming with talent and one that gets a lot more opportunities than Zimbabwe and has a financially strong and a stable board.
What is the secret behind this success? It's nothing but the right mental attitude which is a very important ingredient for success. It's the ultimate tool to strike gold. Many competent teams have digested defeats at the hands of weaker oppositions as that weaker unit exhibited the right mental attitude.
Bangladesh can only blame themselves because they were complacent and never worked on their weaker areas. The head coach Shane Jurgensen has to find out an antidote to this malaise that brings their downfall time and again.