Forgive me for being the killjoy here. Somehow the sight of a Test playing country being stretched to its very limits by an associate member and barely being able to stumble groggily across the finishing line was not a pleasant spectacle. Understandably the national fever surrounding the match was worthy of medical attention, but there ended all pretensions of what should have been a cut and dried affair for the Tigers. But it was not to be.
Taking the day off from this column enabled the mind's eye to replay a few unpleasant memories of the Bangladesh-Ireland match. For a start other than the fact it was a battle of wills rather than of wits, what else was of significance? As a contest it was top drawer, but really it was just poor cricket triumphing over even poorer cricket. Ireland had their chance for some vertical mobility in this competition but blew it conclusively. Bangladesh after all the hype and hoopla about its team and its supposed prowess, stood the risk of being sued for deception.
Our inordinately high level of national cricketing innocence and naivete notwithstanding, a not very palatable picture is likely to emerge after the dust of nationwide euphoria subsides. A very poor batting display was only overshadowed by another even poorer version from the Irish. It was because of some phenomenal reserves of guile and will from bowlers of both sides that only 383 runs were scored in the whole day, all 20 wickets fell and the full complement of 100 overs could not be completed.
A typically knee jerk reaction to the national hue and cry over the controversial decision with the toss the previous outing, meant the team went diametrically the opposite direction this time. But the rest alas, was not history. The openers blazed away in what is becoming a customary practice for Bangladesh, and then proceeded to throw it away. Two moments of individual brilliance ensured Bangladesh would be pegged on to the back foot; the stumping by Niall O'Brien and the run out by Joyce. Bangladesh continued to struggle until put out of misery at 205. It took the combined efforts of the two mature and balding heads of Johnston and Botha, and the looping left arm spin of the young Dockrell to put the shackles around any batting pretensions of the locals.
In turn the Bangladeshi spin quartet received support from an unexpected quarter, in the form of Shafiul to snuff out any semblance of Irish challenge. The Ash x-factor remained inconclusive and the jury must surely be still out for his role in the side. But to his credit he got more wickets than runs, which in a perverse way further complicates matters for the next match. The Irish must surely consider themselves desperately hard done by. They almost did everything right, but it was the present and not the past that caught up with them. The major bane of contention for teams such as Ireland remains the fact they hardly get to play any matches of significance against the big boys throughout the year. Once in 4 years on the big stage is not likely to help these teams get the results they want. Under the sort of pressure with which they are not familiar with, the stakes being so high, they cracked predictably. In no uncertain manner. True they do not suffer from stage fright, but I do not see them winning an Oscar this time.
Back to the drawing boards for Bangladesh if they are to make a fist of it in the coming matches. Of all the teams in the competition Bangladesh is the only one not venturing out of the comfort zone of playing all their matches on home soil. So far the team has not shown much indication that it has been able to take any advantage of this favour done to them. Sterner tests lie ahead but atleast the banana peel has been safely avoided. But only just. Ours is a complicated mindset, because we are easily satisfied by the simple and the mundane. Cricket for the nation was not so much the issue here, it had more to do with pride and vengeance and the assorted mental baggage of proving a point. As opposed to just playing normal cricket and acquiring two points on the table(sic). And because cricket transcends the subconscious, the conscious mind devises ways and means to keep the cricket Houdinis in business. And so it was, just another case of mind over matter.