Just some months ago, it felt like Bangladesh wouldn’t even make it to the main competition of ICC T20 World Cup despite being in the form of their life in 2015 in ODIs. Their performance in the 50-over version has been exceptional as they whitewashed Pakistan, beat India and South Africa on a trot to remove their names off the list of minnows.However, in the shortest version of the game, they are way behind the pack. But in their recent games in the Asia Cup, they have shown signs of improvement, so much that they actually qualified for the final of the tournament, only to lose to India.In the last 7 T20I games, Bangladesh have lost only twice and that too against one team: India, arguably the best T20I team in the world. With Bangladesh going through a good time, here are 5 things they must do in order to reach the knock-outs of World T20I.
#1 Proper use of Abu Hider Rony
Mustafizur Rahman is the hottest prospect in town. The left-arm pacer has been in exceptional touch ever since he has taken the ball in his hand. However, there was another left-arm pacer who was actually meant to reach the national team before Mustafizur.
His name is Abu Hider Rony.
However, with Mustafizur’s sudden rise and also luck playing a bit of a role, he has had to wait for his turn. His big break came in the last edition of the Bangladesh Premier League, something that provided a major boost and shot him to the national team, albeit as a benchwarmer.
He got his first game of the Asia Cup in the final, where he was unfortunate to not pick at least two wickets in his very first over — which consisted of edges and miscues that reached the boundary.
The talent in him is apparent. During his time in the under-19, he earned rave reviews for his consistent performances.
He might not have made a good start to his T20I career, flooding away a lot of runs and not taking many wickets, but it can be safely assumed that once he gets in his groove, he can do some real damage to the opposition along with fellow left-armer, Mustafizur.
Captain Mashrafe Mortaza must show confidence in him, unlike what he did in the final of the Asia Cup. And he might just have another X-factor in his ranks.
#2 Taskin Ahmed must keep focusing on bowling fast and fast only
One of the things that stood out about Shoaib Akthar was not only his ability to bowl fast, but his intent. In an interview with Harsha Bhogle, he revealed all he ever wanted was to bowl fast. Line and length were never his primary concern — it was only bowling as fast as he could.
And it worked in inflicting fear into the hearts of batsmen. One could sense a part of the batsmen’s mind thinking about protecting himself from injury when the express bowler was running in at full speed.
Taskin Ahmed might not be as fast as the former Pakistani pacer, but he shows similar intent in his bowling. He likes to bowl fast and focuses more on that rather than line-length or variations. Almost all of his bowls are quick and just outside off, something that squeezes the batsmen for space.
This type of bowling creates pressure on the batsmen. His economy rate of under 7 is a testament to his ability as a pressure bowler who plays a support role for the main wicket-taker. Despite being prone to at least 2 bad balls in every over, Al-Amin Hossain seems to have found his wicket-taking best with Taskin at his side.
So it is for this reason why Taskin must keep doing what he does best and not focus on becoming the main bowler — the wicket-taking one. Sometimes, for a team to succeed, one must get behind the shadows and play for the betterment of his partner and not him: something that Munaf Patel did for Zaheer Khan in the 2011 World Cup.
#3 Flexibility in batting order
Mashrafe Mortaza has been outstanding as a captain ever since taking on the mantle. His win percentage is something other captains could envy and it is his spirit and clever on-field decisions that lets him outwit his rival.
However, if there one complain about him, it would be his rigidness when it comes to shuffling the batting order.
For example, in the final of the Asia Cup, he chose to send an out-of-form Mushfiqur Rahim above the order instead of Mahmudullah. In the end, Mahmudullah did get his chance, but with just 20 balls left, and yet took it fully by blazing Bangladesh to a score of 119 in 12 overs — something that seemed impossible 20 balls ago.
Had he been sent earlier, Bangladesh might have got more runs on board and who knows what that could have resulted in.
Without pointing fingers any further, Mashrafe could make amends for that decision by shuffling with his line-up whenever necessary. The top three of Tamim, Sarkar and Sabbir is fixed and shouldn’t be tampered with. However, Mashrafe should make best of the situation and change his batting order if necessary.
#4 One of Tamim and Soumya should always fire
Tamim Iqbal is in the form of his life. He is batting with vigour and utmost sensibility. In the qualifiers, not one bowler could get the better of him and he remained not out in all three games, scoring over 200 runs in the process.
Meanwhile, Soumya Sarkar is going through a bit of a rough patch. He has consistently made starts, but hasn’t converted, except against Pakistan in the Asia Cup, where he played a man of the match innings — in a game where Tamim Iqbal couldn’t fire.
However, the most important thing is that they complement each other. Tamim Iqbal feels comfortable having him on the other end and the opposite is also true.
Both have done exceedingly well in giving Bangladesh starts as at least one of the two has almost always played an elongated innings in order to do so. And that is what they must keep doing.
Right now, Tamim Iqbal is the man and Soumya must just be sensible and try to play a good support role by giving him the strike as much as possible with quick singles in almost every ball. In the last game against Oman, Sarkar struggled, but still tried to hit the ball out the park instead of just taking singles and making the in-form player take the crease.
This is something he should take care of as both of them shoulder the biggest responsibility when it comes to giving Bangladesh the platform to launch for a big score.
#5 Play with a nothing-to-lose mentality
The problem, of late, with many fans of the Bangladesh cricket team has been adding unnecessary pressure on the players to succeed. Yes, Bangladesh are a team on the rise, but Rome wasn’t built in one day — it will take time for Bangladesh to become regular title-challengers in any given tournament.
In this format, they are still the underdogs in the tournament and the expectations of the fans shouldn’t be unrealistic. B
angladesh do have all it takes to qualify for the next round, but what they must remember is that this is a team that is in the construction phase — whose final product would be something beautifully lethal — but they are not quite there yet. Also, they have been placed in a very difficult group.
So it would be wise for the fans to be calm and not go overboard if the team wins a game — something they have been guilty of in the very recent past and something that puts added pressure on the team. The fans should just enjoy and let the players enjoy this as a learning curve and, who knows, with a mentality like that, Bangladesh could surprise just about everybody.