When the dust settles... Bangladesh will have a lot to dissect and turn around from their worst-ever World Cup performance. It started in the back-drop of Tamim Iqbal's controversial ouster, and finished with stand-in captain Najmul Hossain Shanto regretting the batting order changes that Bangladesh repeatedly simulated in bilaterals and Asia Cup in the lead-up to the World Cup, rather successfully. In between all of this, Shakib Al Hasan's form [616 runs and 11 wickets in 2019; 186 runs and 9 wickets in 2023] and decisions [going back home mid-World Cup to train with personal coach] summed up the chaotic, shambolic performance that left his team with 2 wins and 7 losses.
Bangladesh found themselves in a situation where all that could go wrong, did, as their pacers and spinners arrived with a spring on their step and appreciable numbers to their names, but flattered to deceive at the tournament as a collective. The slimmest of silver linings even from this forgettable campaign is Bangladesh somehow found their way to eighth - the last spot for Champions Trophy qualification - and held onto it.
A match they'd gladly re-watch the highlights of...
The Sri Lanka fixture.
Another one of Shakib's decisions - to appeal for a timed-out dismissal against Angelo Mathews in the event of an unfortunate malfunctioning of the helmet strap - caused furore and sent the world of cricket memes into overdrive.
Mathews called him disgraceful while Shakib maintained that what he did was well within the rules, which it was. But beyond the theatrics of this frenetic moment, the first-ever in the history of the sport, this was Bangladesh's best result of the tournament as they beat Sri Lanka for the first time in a 50-over World Cup in four attempts.
It was also a game where Shakib gave glimpses of his 2019 World Cup self, picking up two wickets and then returning to score a 65-ball 82 in a steep chase. Najmul Hossain Shanto, tipped to be Shakib's successor at the helm, scored a tidy 90 off 101 balls. Bangladesh's win knocked Sri Lanka out of the World Cup, but the much bigger ramification of that result was that Shakib's side found a way to pip Sri Lanka on NRR to the crucial eighth spot. Both teams lost their final league stage fixture, but it is Sri Lanka that will now miss out on an ICC tournament - in 2025 - for the first time, leaving a blot on their rich cricketing history.
A match they would have loved to replay immediately...
The defeat to Netherlands.
Bangladesh came into the fixture on the back of four successive losses, albeit to stronger and well-rounded sides in England, India, New Zealand and South Africa. The Netherlands fixture was meant to help Bangladesh get back on their feet. A rejuvenated Shakib, back from his brief trip to Bangladesh, was meant to guide the side to two valuable points. Instead, Scott Edwards's plucky Netherlands side held up the mirror to Bangladesh and showed what just good old fashioned discipline and grit can get you at this level.
Their bowling and ground fielding was immaculate even under the pressures of defending a sub-par total of 229. There were a couple of ignominious stats that Bangladesh would surely like to revisit and erase: Paul van Meekeren's 4/24 was the best bowling figure for a Dutch bowler at the World Cup and Bangladesh's 87-run win was the biggest margin of victory for an Associate side over a full-member.
A performance to remember
Mehidy Hasan Miraz vs Afghanistan.
Long before Bangladesh's World Cup unravelled spectacularly, they were treated to a dream, clinical start, courtesy Mehidy Hasan Miraz.
Miraz triggered a collapse with the wicket of Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi, as they went from 112 for 2 to 156 all out. Miraz picked a couple more wickets along the way to finish with figures of 3 for 25 in 9 overs. But what perhaps, mattered so much more to Bangladesh was the fact that their repeated experiments of pushing him up the batting order brought instant success.
After tormenting Afghanistan as an opener in the Asia Cup, Miraz returned to haunt them again - this time from one-drop with a 73-ball 57. He added 97 runs with the other half-centurion in the game - Shanto - to pave the way for a comfortable run chase in Dharamsala.
Hits and Misses...
An unexpected hit perhaps, was Mahmudullah. For months leading up to the World Cup, it appeared like Bangladesh had moved on from the middle-order batter but he somehow made the cut. In the middle of a tournament where the rest of the batters struggled, he scored a century from a tough situation against South Africa and a 56 against Pakistan. He was effective from No.7 against New Zealand (41*) and India (46) too and finished with 328 runs - most in the World Cup for Bangladesh.
Plagued by inconsistency, Bangladesh's World Cup was a carousel of misses. But given Shakib's stature as an all-rounder and the incredible standard he set for himself in the 2019 World Cup, he will go down as the biggest underperformer for them.
Think I've played my last World Cup game...
Shakib outlined his retirement plans even before stepping on Indian shores. He will not be around when the next 50-over World Cup comes up in 2027. Same could be the case for fellow seniors in the side, Mahmudullah (37) and Mushfiqur Rahim (36).