Tri-series is a rarity in recent cricket times. Most of us grew up watching Commonwealth Bank Tri-series in Australia and the NatWest trophy in England which would entertain year after year. However, they went on a decline as we saw years go by without any tri-series being played.
The tri-series in Bangladesh hence presented the opportunity of enjoying the twists and turns of three teams playing in one series. The prospect looked interesting as at least two teams looked evenly matched in Bangladesh & Sri Lanka whereas Zimbabwe is known for springing a surprise or two.
The host Bangladesh started off the series in an expected way, they trounced Zimbabwe and registered an 8 wicket win. Zimbabwe looked completely off-color. The red returned to Zimbabwe as they revived the memories of their series win a year ago in Sri Lanka.
Sikandar Raza’s 67-ball 81 and a steady 73 at the top from Masakadza took Zimbabwe to an impressive 290/6. Sri Lanka had a rough ride towards the target and it was the late onslaught from Thisara Perera (64 from 37 balls) that garnered any hope. But Sri Lankan lower order fell away and Zimbabwe picked up an impressive win.
Bangladesh’s batting order came to the party in the third match and posted 320 runs on the board. Sri Lankans had no clue of the chase and eventually went out slogging, finally falling short by a whopping 163 runs – making it highest victory margin in runs for Bangladesh in ODIs.
At the half-way, Bangladesh looked mighty strong, Zimbabwe looked like a spirited unit and Sri Lanka was drowning in the deep sea. All that changed in next four matches.
Sri Lankan bowling rejuvenated itself against Zimbabwe and stopped them below 200. The African nation suffered another loss at the hands of hosts and got almost knocked out the tournament.
The last league match and the Final were both Bangladesh against Sri Lanka fixtures. A clinical performance from the ruby nation floored the Bangla tigers once while bowling first and once while batting first. The final ended with the debutant Shehan Madushanka claiming a hat-trick.
Looking back at the stats of tournament – bowlers dominated the series and no batsman could score a century. Tamim Iqbal made an impressive return with 252 runs in 5 matches at an average of 63. Shakib continued with his all-round expertise as he was third-highest on the both most runs and most wickets list.
Thisara Perera dominated the bowling list with 11 wickets in 5 matches to go along with 134 runs at an astronomical strike rate of 154. The hat-trick by a debutant provided another statistical gem for number-crunchers.
The tri-series started with much interest which later got exhausted with Sri Lanka finding back its mojo. As Zimbabwe prepares for World Cup qualifiers, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka engage in a battle of two-match Test series. Let’s expect the Tests to give us more talking points than the ODI Tri-series that passed.