One of the most disappointing features of a scintillating tournament has been the abysmal form of Bangladesh. They have barely bothered to show up at their own party.
Having qualified, just, for the main draw in the first week despite losing to the cricketing powerhouse of Hong Kong, they have failed to live up to expectations or reward the faith placed in them by the cricket-going public.
The defeat by 50 runs to Pakistan on Sunday was their third in Group Two and they have come close in none of the matches. Sadly, they have performed as moderately as they would have done 10 or 20 years ago and this in a format of the game that should equalise matters on territory they should know inside out.
This is bad news for cricket, which needs more teams competing for the golden prizes. That is precisely what Twenty20 was supposed to do. So far it isn’t and there are no easy answers about what Bangladesh or any of the others might do next.
Pakistan had matters more or less all their own way on Sunday. Their 22-year-old opener Ahmed Shehzad scored the second century of the tournament, 111 not out from 62 balls, following Alex Hales’ 116 not out for England last week. It demonstrated that one big innings, with others making quick-fire minor contributions, can work ideally.
Pakistan made 190 for 5, which was always far too great a proposition for Bangladesh to consider. They started briskly but were four wickets down before the halfway stage and never remotely up with the rate as Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal, Pakistan’s bowling virtuosi, took 3 for 30 and 2 for 20 respectively.
The match between Pakistan and West Indies tomorrow will determine who joins India from Group Two in the semi-finals. The last Group One place will be decided in Chittagong today when New Zealand and Sri Lanka meet.
India went into Sunday’s match against Australia with three successive wins and a storm of controversy. Their off-spin bowler Ravichandran Ashwin, who has taken 95 of his 104 Test wickets in India, suggested in a media briefing that he was bowling long-sleeved these days so he could disguise the bend in his elbow as he did not want other bowlers to have the advantage. A throwing controversy is always splendid news for any cricket tournament.
On the field, a thumping 73-run win over Australia in Dhaka ensured that India maintained their perfect record at the tournament. Australia found out they had been eliminated just before the match, when Pakistan beat Bangladesh, but a terrible batting performance prevented them from gaining any consolation.
George Bailey’s winless side were bowled out for 86 – with Ashwin taking 4 for 11 – after India had been restricted to a reachable 159 for 7. Yuvraj Singh’s 60 was the best of the Indian batting performance, after they had been sent in to bat for the first time in the tournament. India had already sealed their progress to the semi-finals with three successive wins, which relied on their top order doing the bulk of the scoring, but they had to rebuild from 66 for 4 to set up the match.