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Bangladesh has last chance to impress

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With the Tigers having played their last bilateral series before the World Cup, the only 'game-time' they will get until they reach Brisbane next year will be in the Dhaka Premier League. The importance of the competition, as a result, is bound to increase many-folds this month, with the selectors focusing on certain players to complete their quota of 15 for the World Cup by the first week of January.  
Coach Chandika Hathurusingha, before leaving for Sri Lanka on a break, had said that he wanted to see the national players dominate the Dhaka Premier League. Following their return from the Zimbabwe series, the national players have played just one round so far. Anamul Haque's century for Kalabagan Cricket Academy and Taijul Islam's four-wicket haul for Prime Bank Cricket Club have been the only real highlights so far with regards to the national players.
There will however, be a number of players who will be looking to up their game this month in a bid to make it through to the final 15. Nasir Hossain, who was dropped for the Zimbabwe series, will be one of them. He has had an average time in the competition so far with just two half-centuries. He has scored 241 runs at an average of 48.20 and considering the fact that Sabbir Rahman has almost sealed the number seven position after his debut series, Nasir needs to improve on those numbers if he wants a national call.
Also in the line is Shamsur Rahman, who, after making a good start to the competition with four half-centuries, failed to carry on with his form. He has scored 348 runs so far, at an average of 43.50. Shamsur will be battling for the number three spot which the management is yet to settle. The Zimbabwe series saw Mominul Haque, Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarker play at three.

Bangladesh made a happy-ending

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Bangladesh made a happy-ending to an until-this-series sordid year at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Mahmudullah Riyad slogged a length ball from Solomon Mire to the midwicket boundary to complete his match-winning half-century in the face of his side's batting jittery as the Tigers' 'mission whitewash' was accomplished against Zimbabwe with a five-wicket victory in the low-scoring fifth and final ODI.As expected, the clean sweep of the five-match ODI series followed the 3-0 victory in the Test series against the southern African nation, who had no answer to Bangladesh's spin attack even in the last game as Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul, along with tyro leg-spinner Jubair Hossain, bundled them up only for 128 runs after choosing to bat.Taijul Islam however hogged the spotlight in the year's last international engagement as the left-arm spinner became the first bowler in history to claim a hattrick on debut and was adjudged player-of-the-match for his figures of 4-11. The 22-year-old from Natore became the fourth Bangladeshi to claim a treble after Shahadat Hossain, Abdur Razzak and Rubel Hossain.
There was an interesting similarity between Bangladesh's first win and last win in the series. Firstly, Taijul made a Bangladesh record by taking highest eight wickets in an innings in the first Test and then he finished with the world record hattrick in the last ODI. And secondly, on both the occasions, though the first one was a Test match, the Bangladesh top order faltered in chase of small totals, which however caused a concern for the team management.

Bangladesh looking for perfect

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Thirteen defeats in 14 matches was Bangladesh's ODI record this year prior to the ongoing Zimbabwe series. Heads were buried for most parts of the year and the players seemed to have had forgotten how to win games. A droopy Mushfiqur Rahim would attend the post-match press conferences with a look as confused as his fans; for neither of them knew what was going wrong."There were times this year when we lost close games and that's what put extra pressure on us. Now it is important that we finish this series well. It is important to continue well and that the players take this seriously. We need to perform better than the last four games here," urged a confident Mashrafe Bin Mortaza at the pre-match press conference yesterday.Come this Monday, the Tigers have an opportunity to overcome that feeling by completing a flawless series. Sure enough, the scars left by the likes of Afghanistan, Hong Kong and a host of other teams, will linger despite the series win. But at the end of the day, finishing the year with a 5-0 whitewash is bound to leave a good taste; something that can be a reminder when the Tigers take on the likes of Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka in the World Cup in two months time.
Asked if it would be a disappointment if the Tigers failed to complete the whitewash, Mashrafe said, "After winning four games, I am not thinking about that. All the players are confident after going 4-0 up. Yes anything can happen in cricket but we have to be prepared to win and we will give our best."

Bangladesh one step closer to win

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Zimbabwe lifted their game a little bit but in the end they embraced the same fate as the Tigers made it 4-0 by winning the fourth ODI, which started after observing a minute's silence to mourn the untimely death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, of the five-match series by 21 runs at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur last night.
The visitors for the first time threatened to upset the home side for their first win of the tour through a 106-run fourth-wicket partnership between Brendan Taylor and Solomon Mire. But debuting leg-spinner Jubair Hossain interrupted just in time to break the partnership and put the brakes on Zimbabwe's scoring. The tourists were eventually restricted to 235 for 8 in their 50 overs after Bangladesh had scored a seemingly below-par 256 for 8 in their quota of 50 overs.
Unlike the previous matches, Bangladesh made a poor start under overcast conditions after deciding to bat, but still Zimbabwe failed to capitalise on those chances as the home side moved another step closer towards the expected whitewash of the southern African nation. The fifth and final match will take place at the same venue on December 1.
Mahmudullah Riyad, Mushfiqur Rahim and captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza however deserved the kudos for their batting efforts that helped their side maintain the supremacy over the visitors. Riyad, who hit an unbeaten 82 for his highest score and his first ODI fifty in 18 months, played the anchor's role to stabilise the team twice.


Remember Phillip Hughes

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As ever, in the face of terrible tragedies, the questions overwhelm: Why ...  how ...  why ...   why ...  WHY? And as ever, the answers don't remotely satisfy. How can a healthy young man, engaged in the passion of his life, among the world's best at his craft, while wearing protective equipment ...  still be mortally felled by what seemed a relatively innocuous ball?
It defies explanation, for there are no answers worthy of the name. As I wrote on Thursday morning, it seems more a matter of mathematics than mayhem. That is, if players engage in an activity where there is a one-in-10 million chance of mortal injury ...  10 million times ...  then it stands to reason that every few decades someone will be the victim of colossal catastrophe through the fault of no one.
I further noted that while optimism is in the very nature of sport -- the ingrained belief that out of every loss some good must come – in the case of Phillip Hughes this is proved wrong, as from such a thing as this there is only tragedy from which there is no comeback. But maybe I was wrong.
Right now, amid the devastation, there is strong discussion among the Australian cricket community about whether next week's Test against India should go ahead. Would it be disrespectful to play it? Would the players even be capable of concentrating on a mere game in the face of losing such a cherished teammate in such circumstances? The last part is for them to decide.


Bangladesh moving towards

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Anamul Haque might be ruing his missed century but captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza should be the happiest man after the way the Tigers secured the series against Zimbabwe with two matches in hand at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur last night in front of a near-capacity crowd.
The home side were near perfect in all departments on their way to a massive 124-run victory in the third ODI, barring the individual milestone from someone at the top of the order, as Anamul and Tamim Iqbal carried on their good form to set it up for the bowlers to finish off the job.
There was a lot of similarity with the second match except the late surge which improved a lot to increase the total. Like the second game, a hundred-plus opening partnership was again broken by a freakish run-out of Tamim while Mashrafe and Arafat Sunny were the stars with the ball.
Zimbabwe only won the toss to send their opponents in first, but everything else was won by the hosts who recorded their biggest win over their southern African rivals in terms of runs.
The Tigers kept improving with the series' progression and made their opponents look poorer on way to taking the 3-0 winning lead as the visitors were bowled out for 173 with 10.1 overs still to be bowled in their chase of a mammoth 298 runs.
When Bangladesh piled up a total close to three hundred runs, the result was already written on the wall for the Zimbabweans. The fans started to leave the ground when Brendan Taylor was trapped in front by left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan, his only scalp of the match after a quick 33-ball 40, with the scoreboard reading 82 for five.


Testing before play series first

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The selectors on Sunday night announced a team only for the third ODI against Zimbabwe which will be held at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur tomorrow as they are planning to go for some experimentation in the last two games. And the testing will go on only if the Tigers confirm the series tomorrow after the hosts won the first two matches in Chittagong convincingly.
If everything goes according to plan, the team management then may give rest to skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza. It's however yet to confirm whether he will be rested for one match or two. The team think-tank wants to try out three to four players in the last two games keeping World Cup in mind if the hosts win the third ODI as expected. Left-handed opener Tamim Iqbal is suffering from a hamstring injury, but according to sources it's not serious.
Mashrafe not only successfully led his side to the 2-0 lead but also was adjudged player-of-the-match, which he earned after a four-year break, in the second game. But for the team management the most encouraging fact was that the bowler didn't receive any injury. And according to sources it's now all but confirmed that the Narail Express will lead the team in the World Cup next year in Australia and New Zealand if he remains fit. Before the World Cup, Bangladesh are likely to play a tournament in Dubai along with Zimbabwe and the four Associate qualifiers -- Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and the UAE -- in January.