High point: Registering maiden win in a World Cup

Bangladesh played seven matches in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2022, lost six of them and won only one. That victory came against Pakistan.

At the Seddon Park in Hamilton, New Zealand Bangladesh eked out a nine-run win against Pakistan, following the footsteps of their male counterparts who had also defeated Pakistan in their maiden appearance in a World Cup back in 1999.

The women’s team knew that the match against Pakistan was their best bet at winning a game in the tournament. Bangladesh had played 11 ODIs against the Asian rivals before that match, from which they had finished on the winning side on five occasions.

The batters set the stage by powering Bangladesh to its highest ever total, 234-7. Fargana Hoque struck 71 while skipper Nigar Sultana and Sharmin Akhter chipped in with 46 and 44-run knocks respectively.

Pakistan opener Sidra Ameen nearly crushed Bangladesh’s dreams with a century. But leg spinners Fahima Ahmed and Rumana Ahmed collectively took five wickets to initiate a batting collapse and give Bangladesh a milestone victory.

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The win also ensured that Bangladesh didn’t finish dead last in their maiden appearance as they finished seventh in the eight-team competition. The only team below them is Pakistan.

Low point: Heartbreak against West Indies

Spurred on by the win against Pakistan, Bangladesh took on West Indies next. At the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, the same venue where Bangladesh won their maiden away Test against New Zealand in January, Bangladesh had West Indies in the ropes but failed to land the decisive blow.

The Bangladeshi spinners restricted West Indies for 140-9 but the batters couldn’t hold their nerves in the paltry chase.

Bangladesh needed eight runs to win in the last over. Nahida Akhter took three runs off the first two deliveries but ended up handing over the strike to the number 11 batter Fariha Trishna. In an attempt to return the strike back to Nahida, Fariha inside edged a ball onto the stumps. And with her dismissal, Bangladesh got bundled out for 136 in 49.3 overs, falling five runs short of their target.

The West Indies players rejoiced after dodging the bullet while the Bangladesh players were left ruing the missed opportunity.

Star performer: Salma Khatun still a class above the rest

Bangladesh women’s team’s former captain and star all-rounder Salma Khatun once again proved why she is considered as one of the best spin-bowling all-rounders in women’s cricket.

Salma is Bangladesh’s most successful bowler in the campaign with 10 wickets in seven matches at an economy rate of below four. She is currently the joint third highest wicket-taker in the tournament with eight others.

Salma was at her best in the Australia match, where she took 3-23 in her nine overs and single handedly reduced Australia to 26-3 after 9.2 overs.

Salma also chipped in with 94 runs in seven innings, with the highest score of 32 against India.

Fargana Hoque is Bangladesh’s highest run-getter with 173 runs. She is also the only Bangladeshi batter to score a half-century in the tournament. She ended the campaign with fifties against Pakistan and New Zealand respectively.

Take away: Strong spin attack held back by poor batting

In the pre-match press conference ahead of the Bangladesh-England clash, English opener Tammy Beaumont said that her team was feeling confident. Their only worry was tackling Bangladesh’s potent spin attack, led by the experienced Salma Khatun.

For now, Nigar and her teammates can head back home with their heads held high

Bangladeshi spinners performed consistently throughout the tournament. Bowling first, the spin attack had placed Bangladesh in a position of power against West Indies and South Africa. Defending just 135 against a women’s cricket powerhouse like Australia, the spinners kept Bangladesh in the contest for a long time before Beth Mooney’s unbeaten 66 took the game away from them.

While the spin attack showed promise, the batters, overall, disappointed. Batting was never the strong point of the women’s team and the stats from the tournament give a clear picture on how much they are lagging behind from the top sides.

Other than Bangladesh and Pakistan, the six other teams competing in the tournament have crossed the 250-run mark. India and Australia have even posted totals higher than 300.

Bangladesh’s only victory in the tournament came in the same match where they posted their highest ever total in 50-over cricket. That only shows that in order to become a better ODI side, Bangladesh needs to post bigger totals more consistently.

The next Women’s World Cup is four years away. That is plenty of time for the management to chalk up plans and fix their batting woes. But for now, Nigar and her teammates can head back home with their heads held high.

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