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5 lessons learnt by Bangladesh after the South Africa tour 

S Sam
Australia v Bangladesh - ICC Champions Trophy
An investment in good fast bowlers is the need of the hour for the Tigers

Over the past few seasons, Bangladesh seemed to have turned a corner as a cricket team. They beat India and South Africa in one-day series, while they held both Australia and England to 1-1 draws in 2 match Test series.

However, all those successes came at home and any hope that they might have had of any kind of overseas success was crushed cruelly in the team's recent visit to South Africa. While no one really gave them a chance of winning any of the series but there were expectations that they would compete in parts.

That was not to be, however, as South Africa outclassed them 2-0 in the two-match series and then proceeded to win each of the 3 one day internationals.

It was in the latter, that there was hope that Bangladesh might compete and perhaps spring a surprise. Two T20Is are yet to be played but the tour is already a forgettable one for the team. So, let's look at some of the lessons that they must have learnt during this tough tour.

5 Bangladesh need to invest in new fast bowlers

They might have appointed one of the world's best former bowlers, Courtney Walsh, as their bowling coach, but Bangladesh's fast bowling personnel have been shocking in overseas tours over the years and the tour of South Africa was no different.

Bangladesh simply do not have the personnel to take wickets away from home and the fact that one of their best medium pacers, Mustafizur Rahman could only take 3 wickets in two Tests, is a grim reminder of their bare bowling resources in Test cricket.

None of the faster bowlers could trouble the South Africans and it seems that Bangladesh need to either change the set up completely to make these bowlers more suited to Test cricket or bring in structural changes with a long-term outlook.

On the other hand, they could give opportunities to younger fast bowlers in Test cricket and see how they fare in the longer formats. The current lot have flattered to deceive.

4 They can't go into games looking for draws

1st Momentum ODI: South Africa v Bangladesh
Captain Mushfiqur Rahim needs to play up the attack rather than defend

Now, it is true that one can't expect Bangladesh to beat South Africa at the latter's den and in fact, very few teams in the world can do so, but starting a Test match with the mindset to draw the game is almost always the wrong sort of strategy for a team.

Now, Bangladesh obviously cannot go for an ultra-attacking approach since they simply do not have the personnel but at the same time, decisions like choosing to bowl first in the second Test reeks of a defensive mindset.

Allowing a bowling attack that is already under the pump to have a go on a flat pitch on the first day of the Test is a majorly defensive move, and Bangladesh need to move away from that mindset if they are to compete away from home.

More importantly, the might lose matches even if they play intelligently but with the target of going for a draw from the start handicaps the team considerably.

3 Shakib won't be playing forever

Bangladesh v England - First Test: Day Three
Shakib Al Hasan

Make no mistake, Bangladesh might have produced plenty of players over the years but none of them have been remotely as good or influential as their star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.

Shakib is the only genuine world-class player in the side, who can compete against the best in the world on an equal footing and is absence was acutely felt in the Test series, which he sat out due to fatigue.

The team failed to make inroads into the South African batting line up and missed him in the batting order as well, as they crashed to embarrassing defeats in both games. Once he returned to the side in the ODI series, he was the only bowler who looked even remotely dangerous.

All this points to the fact that Bangladesh seem to be overly dependent on their star player and during the series, they must have realised it for the umpteenth time. However, it is about time that they realise that he won't be around forever and so, they must start grooming promising young all-rounders who could step into his shoes.

2 Their ODI bowling needs a reboot

England v Bangladesh - ICC Champions Trophy
Mustafizur Rahman

One of the best developments in Bangladesh cricket over the past few years has been the improvement in their bowling in limited overs cricket, however, the 3 match one-day international series should count as a wake-up call for the team.

Bangladesh had proven to be a decent restrictive bowling attack, with good death bowlers and a fine cast of spin bowlers who could often hold their own against good batting lineups.

However, in South Africa, the team could neither stem the flow of runs nor could they pick up wickets to remedy it and this should come as a wake-up call for the team in the lead up to the 2019 World Cup.

Mustafizur Rahman was a big miss, no doubt, but among the rest of the bowlers, only Shakib Al Hasan could hold his own in the ODI series.

The two are the best bowlers in the side and Bangladesh need to build a bowling attack around these two bowlers if they are to deliver on their promise. The trouncing in South Africa might be an early and necessary wake up call.

1 Top order needs rebuilding

New Zealand v Bangladesh - 2nd Test: Day 1
Tamim Iqbal

The lack of quality batsmen at the top of the order is a huge problem for any side that wants to compete away from home and when it comes to Bangladesh, it has been a problem now for many years.

The tour to South Africa this year further reinforced the fact that the team needs to start looking for batsmen who might be ready to step into the Test arena. After scoring 320 in the first innings of the 1st Test, Bangladesh crumbled to 90 all out, 147 all out and 172 all out to crash to a 2-0 defeat in the two-match Test series.

However, if a team is to put up decent totals on the board then it must have a top 3 which can score runs and in those two Tests, not a single century was scored by any one batsman out of the top 3.

Among them, perhaps only Tamim Iqbal is immune from the axe, but it is perhaps time for the team management to try out promising young players from the domestic level. Bangladesh must have learnt the lesson that they do not have a chance in overseas Tests if they do not have a sound top order.

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Edited by Anuradha Santhanam
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