India in Bangladesh 2014 June 13, 2014

Five degrees of pressure for Bangladesh

The manner in which individuals handle pressure will determine how successful Bangladesh are as a unit against India, as they look to turn around their poor showing so far in 2014

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Isam: Bangladesh have gained some confidence

There is a neat division of pressure levels - five to be precise - in the Bangladesh squad ahead of their three-match ODI series against India. The biggest demands will be placed on experienced players who have to tackle lack of form, confidence, and rising expectations, as the team look to start winning after ordinary performances in the year.

Most of the pressure will be on the trio of captain Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Abdur Razzak, who have all played more than 100 games. As the most experienced players, they will face the most heat for their lack of form and position in the team. Mushfiqur has been the team's highest scorer in this format in 2014 but he has also overseen a 0-7 ODI record. With a new set of coaches, Mushfiqur's predominant role will be to coax the best performances from his players.

There have been some questions about Mushfiqur's decisions on the field, particularly when Bangladesh have been on top of situations in a game. His reluctance to use left-arm spinners against left-hand batsmen has been one of the signs of his rigidity. Mushfiqur would hope for Tamim and Razzak's quick return to form, as it could have a ripple effect on other players facing similar crises in form and confidence.

Tamim recently stressed that he was doing everything to return to form, but the pressure will be palpable given the murmurs over his place in the side during the World T20. Razzak, the country's highest wicket-taker in ODIs, has struggled to cut the runs and pick up wickets. Both Tamim and Razzak have had injuries this year, but they are important to the ODI team and will be expected to perform at a higher level than they did between January and April.

Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain and Sohag Gazi will face the next, slightly lower level of pressure. Their contributions ensured the team had an easy balance when they won the ODI series against West Indies in 2012, drew the one-dayers against Sri Lanka and crushed New Zealand 3-0 in 2013.

Mahmudullah, however, has been out of form for some time now and also lost his place in the side. Nasir has suffered his first dip in form since his 2011 debut and Gazi's form has resembled a yo-yo. When he has found a reason to do well, Gazi has gone all out but there have been times when he has lacked motivation.

After a poor Bangladesh A tour to England in mid-2013, he bounced back superbly against New Zealand with a hat-trick and hundred in the same Test and then played a key role in the side's 3-0 win in the ODIs. This year, however, he has had five poor games, averaging 56 with the ball.

The third wave of pressure will be on Anamul Haque, Shamsur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman, who have been in and out of the side. Anamul made a comeback at the start of the year and has slowly got himself into a position where he is now an automatic choice to open the innings with Tamim. He has to improve upon his strike rate of 68.26, in 2014, and 70 overall.

With two low scores in the World T20, Shamsur will have to wait his turn. He has started well in all three formats but has given it away as soon as he got going. Given how Anamul has been scoring, Shamsur will have to build on his starts to regain his place in the team. Ziaur can expect a bit-part role in the series, which has been his problem - he is judged by these small opportunities where he is expected to deliver the maximum.

Shakib Al Hasan, Mominul Haque and Mashrafe Mortaza will face less pressure as they have shown an ability to deal with expectations. Shakib will be buoyant after contributing to Kolkata Knight Riders' second IPL triumph. He was in a media storm during the World T20, after a bizarre interview in a local newspaper, but he has always handled pressure and controversy effectively. Mominul, while not at Shakib's level as a player, has been similarly indifferent to pressure. As an ODI batsman, Mominul has a lot to improve on but his willingness makes him an attractive player to watch.

Mashrafe, too, has handled pressure effectively. He has made several comebacks from injury, taking very little time to adjust to on-field happenings and will be looking to improve his wickets tally in this series.

The least amount of pressure will be on Al-Amin Hossain, Mohammad Mithun and Taskin Ahmed, and it should remain that way regardless of their performances in the series.

Al-Amin has improved rapidly as a bowler and his next target should be to bring down his economy rate, which he tried doing in the World T20. Mithun and Taskin are newcomers and they should be allowed to play freely whenever they are given the chance.

As an emotional cricket team, Bangladesh will do well if they can handle pressure at an individual level. The series will be an eye-opener for new head coach Chandika Hathurusingha and bowling coach Heath Streak, but for now, it is Mushfiqur who will have to be the main man, handling his own share of pressure, while helping his side climb out of the rut.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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