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Alagappan Muthu in Mirpur
June 18, 2014
Bangladesh have lost nine ODIs in a row. They have ceded a home series to an India side their captain had labeled second-string. Everything from body language to haphazard shot-selection has been blamed and on Tuesday, when they were bowled out for 58, Mushfiqur Rahim could not pinpoint the exact source of his side's troubles. There were just too many of them.
The camp was in regroup mode at training in Mirpur, on the eve of the final ODI. Bangladesh's chief of cricket operations, Akram Khan, dropped by. So did Habibul Bashar, selector and former captain. All of them would have known that the most glaring issue to be addressed was the batting, especially with the spice the weather can add to the Mirpur pitch.
Heath Streak, the bowling coach, was succinct when asked by ESPNcricinfo what change he wanted to see from his batsmen. "To score runs," he said jovially. "It's just about backing their ability and playing according to the conditions on the day. That's the important thing, and to have the confidence to go out there and apply yourself in different conditions.
"The first [match's] wicket was really flat and the second one was probably the opposite. So the whole approach and strategy was changed a lot and I know that's something that has been addressed and they'll have to work hard at getting it right for the next game."
While conceding that the task ahead was quite difficult and would not be achieved overnight, Streak believed his charges have the "ability" to overturn their prolonged slump.
"I was part of a Zimbabwe changeroom that was in very similar situations quite regularly. That's when you want people to show character and fight and that's when you need your senior players to stand up and be counted and lead from the front. I know that will happen. This is a good team. They've got the potential. They will improve.
"It's not that they don't have the ability. They've pushed some good teams close recently and they've just been on the wrong end of the results and sometimes it's hard to get out of that losing streak, but I'm confident that when we do, we just need to make sure that we work hard and stay on top and build from there."
Bangladesh do have something working in their favour, in their bid to springboard back to from: the bowling. Streak was pleased with how the bowlers attacked India on Tuesday. Taskin Ahmed was pacy and he struck lengths that made the batsmen uncomfortable. Mashrafe Mortaza was accurate and miserly. They created enough opportunities, and that resulted from an adjustment in thought process, a lesson the batsmen will do well to pay attention to as well.
"It's still early days [for me as bowling coach]," Streak said. "I'm just getting them [the bowlers] to have a positive mindset, be a little more aggressive and not to be intimidated by the fact that they're playing - in their minds - against superstars.
"They [India's batsmen] play the IPL, they've seen them play in India and other places. But they're human beings. They make mistakes. They're very good at doing their jobs, but a good ball is a good ball, doesn't matter if it's to Suresh Raina or Rayudu or one of our own like Mushfiqur. And if you do that more consistently and at a good pace, if you do that, then I think we will challenge people more."
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