Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Mirpur February 17, 2014

Mushfiqur defends bowling tactics

Shakib Al Hasan was taken out of the attack when Sri Lanka were 63 for 6 after 18 overs. Shakib had bowled four tight overs, but was not brought back till the 34th, by when Thisara Perera's counterattack had lifted Sri Lanka to 143 for 8. The decision to keep Shakib out of the attack for so long will be considered a captaincy blunder, but the idea that a left-arm orthodox spinner cannot be used against a left-hand batsman is something that has persisted with successive Bangladesh team managements.

It has never rewarded them properly, and reflects how quickly they sink to a defensive mindset. The theory was often heard when Jamie Siddons was coach, and Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib were captains. Perhaps the theory will not be put to rest anytime soon, but this incident should serve as a warning.

Though Thisara was at the crease, Sri Lanka were tottering on 67 for 8, ready to be finished off. Thisara had nothing to lose from that position, and ball after ball, he was fed deliveries on his legs. He swung, got fours and sixes, had catches dropped, and Sri Lanka turned the game even from a seemingly hopeless position.

"There was killer instinct," Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said. "If the catches would have been taken, they could have been bowled out within hundred. If you have noticed, Perera was taking chances when he was hitting Sunny bhai. Our plan was to use away-going deliveries, so that he edged something. We didn't want Perera to play according to his strengths. The plan was fine, unfortunately, we couldn't hold on to the catches."

If Mushfiqur rates Shakib as his best bowler, which he does, then the best bowler is supposed to be good enough to get the hitter out even if he is left-handed. If the plan was to give Perera away-going deliveries, then Mahmudullah's slow, timid off-spin is never going to dent the attacking batsman's confidence.

If a right-handed hitter was going for sixes in such a situation, Mushfiqur would almost certainly have used Shakib and Arafat Sunny even if they were bowling poorly and Sohag Gazi and Mahmudullah bowling well. That is how Mushfiqur, and many of his predecessors, have long used spinners.

There were chances created, for sure, like when Sohag Gazi and Nasir Hossain dropped simple chances at long-on, and Shakib off Al-Amin Hossain at long-off. Mahmudullah also dropped Sachithra Senanayake at slip, and so did Shakib after diving to take a top-edge at midwicket.

"I don't know when Bangladesh lost like this before. It is really disappointing. We dropped a few catches and by generally good fielders. It put us on the back-foot."

Mushfiqur also lamented the lack of partnerships as Bangladesh slipped from 114 for 2 to 167 all out. But he said Sri Lanka set fields which made it difficult to find singles and doubles.

"Score like 180 was not difficult, it wasn't swinging or spinning. There was a bit of moisture that's all. Their field placement was all inside, so one had to play a few shots. Our plan was fine but two silly run-outs put us on the back-foot.

"Partnerships are needed in such low-scoring games, one of the set batsman should have played at least an 80-run innings, then it would have been easier."

Till now, Bangladesh have lost two Twenty20s off the last ball and threw away two golden opportunities in one match. They had the visitors on 67 for 8 and were themselves requiring less than three runs an over, with eight wickets in hand. They have pushed Sri Lanka close, but the time has come now to complete the job.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here