Extraordinary wins can galvanise teams. Ask the India 1983 World Cup side, who had been 7 for 78 against Zimbabwe in Tunbridge Wells, before Kapil Dev struck 178 off 135 balls to post a score that proved just a little beyond the opposition. On the back of that victory India would win thrice more, famously beating a formidable West Indies side in the final.
Or ask the Sri Lanka World T20 side of 2014. They had scored only 119 against New Zealand, and were on the brink of exiting the tournament. Then came the sublime spell from Rangana Herath; his 5 for 3 generating the wave of confidence that bore the team to the title.
Now Bangladesh find themselves hoping they follow a similar trajectory. There are no world titles on offer in Sri Lanka, but for a side that over the past six months has been trounced in South Africa, lost their coach, and then were defeated across formats at home by the team that coach defected to, a resurgence is desired almost as desperately. Captain Mahmudullah was optimistic their superb chase of 215 will be a fresh start as Bangladesh hone in on a particular style of cricket from which sustained success could bloom.
“We needed that win and the desire really drove everyone starting from the players, the support staff and team management,” he said. “We believe in our ability. We have taken a step in the right direction. Now we want to move on with the positives towards the next match.”
Among the more remarkable features of Bangladesh’s chase against Sri Lanka was the top order’s reliance on timing, rather than power. Liton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim in particular were adept at harnessing the pace on the ball for their own ends, while the likes of Soumya Sarkar played restrained innings, even with the required rate consistently north of 10. That approach is a blueprint for further batting success, said Mahmudullah.
“We spoke about creating a Bangladesh brand of T20 cricket ahead of this tour. We need to be smart to take calculative risk – particularly when taking on a bowler. This will give us the edge. We don’t have the power hitters, which we need to address – but we need to be smart to carry out our skills.”
If Saturday’s batting excellence is to be a catalyst for resurgence, Bangladesh know their bowling must quickly shape up. Although there were hints in the match against Sri Lanka that Mustafizur Rahman was returning to form – his cutters began to yield better results – he was nevertheless expensive, conceding 48 runs from his four overs. The trick, perhaps, would be to bank on spin and slower balls, Mahmudullah said.
“The wicket suits the batsmen more, but Indian bowlers are taking pace off the ball, which is something even we can try to do. You must have seen that when the spinners Nazmul Islam and Mehidy Hasan were bowling in the last game, there was a span of 20-odd balls when they stopped the boundaries. But I still feel we have to step up our efforts, which I feel our bowlers can do.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.