Pitch not offering us home advantage, says Mushfiqur
Mushfiqur Rahim, the Bangladesh captain, has said the Mirpur pitch on which his team lost by five wickets to Pakistan was not what he expected and therefore did not offer home advantage. Bangladesh were bowled out for just 91 runs and while the game lost its competitive edge after the first two hours Pakistan too found it difficult to bat and took their time getting to the low target.
"I have not experienced what home advantage is in the last two series, to be honest with you," Mushfiqur said. "When you talk about home advantage, you expect to be playing on pitches you are familiar with so you know what a good total would be, be it 240 or 150.
"But if you don't know that then you don't know how to approach the innings. I don't think we are getting what we are expecting from the track, plus there is a lack of application."
Bangladesh were hustled into a corner by Shahid Afridi's five-wicket haul after Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik did the early damage. The ever-improving Hafeez took the new ball and straightaway trapped Tamim Iqbal lbw, while Malik beat Mushfiqur with extra bounce, getting him to edge behind an attempted cut.
Afridi too got two wickets with extra bounce, including that of Shakib Al Hasan, who sliced to Umar Akmal at backward point. Mahmudullah edged a genuine legbreak from Afridi before Farhad Reza and Shafiul Islam gave him his fourth and fifth. Afridi, who also top-scored for Pakistan, said the pitch was not that hard to bat on. "If the batsmen want they can survive," he said. "You can take singles, rotate the strike and play yourself in. Maybe because of Twenty20 cricket now batsmen don't have the temperament.
Another collapse left Mushfiqur looking for answers, many of which will have to be answered by his batsmen. He was adamant that the batsmen must pick the gaps rather than wait to play the big shots - a recurring theme in his press meets since he has been in charge.
"We need to work on our basics and try to hit the ball into the gaps," Mushfiqur said. "I had a chat with the rest of the batsmen after we were all out for 91, so hopefully we can see more application from the next match onwards. Our top order has not been performing consistently for the last couple of series. The batsmen are under a lot of pressure and they cannot play their natural game, probably because they're facing up to the best bowling attack in the world.
"When you're not among the runs, there is pressure, and then when you lose a couple of early wickets the pressure increases. Our top-order batsmen need to play with a bit more responsibility; even if we had scored 150 today it could have been a different game."
Mushfiqur said there was a marked difference in the abilities of the two sets of players, but he wanted to fight on. "Obviously there is a difference in the skill-level between the two teams. If we had some players of their skill level and four or five matchwinners then things would obviously have been different. But we need to fight with whatever resources are available to us."
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka