Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI, Mirpur February 19, 2014

Bangladesh troubled as business end nears

As the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20 draw closer, Bangladesh need to shake off the problems that have hurt their performances in the limited-overs games against Sri Lanka
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The first ODI debacle was an example of how fragile the confidence of Bangladesh's players can be, even in seemingly unassailable match situations. However, with so much cricket left in the 2013-14 season, expectations of this side, one that has made steady progress at home over the last few years, will continue to rise despite the myriad challenges facing each cricketer.

The 13-run defeat to Sri Lanka was Bangladesh's third in six days, a drastic change in results after a draw in the second Test. Unnecessary off-field issues have spiralled, and the team is struggling with injuries, loss of form, and tardy attitude. The problems have outweighed the benefits of players in good form, a well-timed debut and a late-blooming career. And all of this is taking place in a group of players who are either young men or inexperienced at the international stage, or both.

To balance the difficulties faced by Mahmudullah, Sohag Gazi and to some extent Nasir Hossain, because of their form and new fame, Bangladesh have the experience of Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal. Shakib apart, however, the other two have not been at their best. Tamim has a neck strain, and his resignation as vice-captain continued the cat-and-mouse game between him and the board.

On the field, Mushfiqur made a tactical blunder that facilitated Sri Lanka's recovery. By not using Shakib soon after after the visitors were 67 for 8, Mushfiqur let a defining advantage slip. Shakib ended up breaking the ninth-wicket stand, but not before it was worth 82 in 14 overs.

Bangladesh's explanation wasn't convincing: they do not use left-arm orthodox spinners against left-hand batsmen - Thisara Perera - because the ball is spinning in and can be hit with the angle. Shakib has 300 international wickets, though, and has dismissed his share of left-hand batsmen. In fact, the first chance Perera offered was against left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny, but Gazi had dropped the catch at long-on.

Gazi, and Mahmudullah, have appeared low on confidence against Sri Lanka, especially under pressure. Mahmudullah's form dipped after he played a role in Bangladesh's 3-2 home ODI series win over West Indies in late 2012. He was vice-captain at the time but has not been the same cricketer since.

Mahmudullah lost his Test spot in Zimbabwe and was in and out of the team for much of last year. After a two-ball duck and substandard fielding in the first ODI, in which his bat-pad dismissal was similar to his exit in the second Test, he is under pressure.

Gazi had started well against West Indies, the same series in which Mahmudullah was powerful. The offspinner led the attack on his first international tour, to Sri Lanka, but on the following tour to Zimbabwe, Gazi was downgraded in the pecking order, after Shakib Al Hasan and Enamul Haque Jnr.

Gazi lost form on an A-team tour, recovered it to an extent in domestic cricket, and bounced back against New Zealand by scoring a hundred and taking a hat-trick in the same Test. He has been poor against Sri Lanka, though, bowling far too full and quick to batsmen proficient at playing offspin.

Nasir's loss of form is surprising; his highest score across formats during Sri Lanka's visit is 42. He can take a blinder of a catch one day and drop a sitter the next. His decline says much about how players can become stars in Bangladesh, and with little playing experience elsewhere in the world, they take that tag too seriously.

There is a school of thought that some young players have found it difficult to handle their recent success. Dhaka, the nerve centre for cricket in Bangladesh, is a small pond when compared to the international arena. Shakib is the country's biggest star, and not just in cricket, which gives his team-mates a similar footing. Some of the newer players, like Nasir and Gazi, have shot up from domestic cricket quite quickly, and have found success and fame.

The reaction to the defeat in the first ODI has been muted, with most players staying out of sight and the team resting, instead of being put through bad-boy nets. There was a clearing of the air within the team the day after the match, and now Bangladesh have to turn it around on the field. If they fail to put their troubles behind them in the second ODI, it could prove dangerous as the team enters the business end of the home season - the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    The Bangladesh batting has a fragility to it that won't win many games. The senior players need to show maturity and leadership. The talent is there, but the mental strength seems to elude them at pivotal moments.

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2014, 14:23 GMT

    Shakib ,Nasir should follow mushfique how he played today .Just a nonsense cricket team.

  • Sanka on February 20, 2014, 4:22 GMT

    @Herath-UK: Mate, you are way over the line. You can say the way our (SL) batsmen played was boring. Rest wasn't. Perhaps you fell asleep when we were batting first 20+ overs in wet & cold Kent and woke up at the end of the presentation. I've seen your comments elsewhere and you should learn (if learning still suites your age) to show some respect and give some credit where it's due.

  • Keith on February 20, 2014, 2:41 GMT

    Dhali_BD_Fan. In my opinion Sachin was a self player. I have seen him play matches which he could have won, but instead went on to get a hundred and leave the match for a draw or a loss, and yes India have lost matches in spite of Sachin scoring high, so you take your pick. Getting back to the point BD have lost confidence in them selves. A pity given the fact that the attacking style of cricket they played in the test gave good signs of how they would approach the shorter formats. True that the shorter formats thus far have gone to the wire, yet losing on a trot by a large or small margin is enough to demoralize the team. I think this is the time BD need their fans more than ever, as in a country like Bangladesh, cheering fans can do wonders.

  • Subterraneo on February 20, 2014, 0:43 GMT

    @HerathUK: do you mean Test matches? The recent T20 and ODI's were enterntaining enough. Or maybe you do not enjoy limiter-overs cricket?

  • Hasib on February 20, 2014, 0:07 GMT

    @Warm_Coffe: Spot on!. I said the same thing but my comment wasn't published for being a bad boy with the wordings. The 2nd T20 was clearly lost due to lack of common sense and perhaps selfishness. I've heard that Mashrafe and Shakib are not the closest of friends since Shakib took over captaincy from Mashrafe. And both players come from the same area. Shakib was only used for 2 overs in the 2nd T20. "Due" was just a poor excuse. 17th and 19th over should have been given to Shakib. Mushfiq also made a mistake but not willing to admit it. I'm very frustrated, and even wins in the next 2 ODIs will not make me happy. Dropping some of these players will.

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2014, 22:23 GMT

    Bangladesh needs change Muhammad Ulla, Nasir Hussain, and Rubal Hussain,

  • Golam on February 19, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    Hope mushfiq can lead the team right way tomorrow cause I am loosing faith on him ! In each game passes he looks more nervous then the early one !! BD need sometime to turn around the hole shitt & Mushi & some other senior can provide it ! Just one win & everything will be the same again !! Hope for a BD Victory tomorrow ... which will hold all the way to Asia cup final and even the finals in T20 !!! Come on guys ... be optimistic !! we can handle this !!!

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    It is time to make a analysis that how many matches in out domestic tournaments till date was closely contested. I am sure you will not find more. When you do not know how to handle the pressure situation then we can not just blame our cricketers. Senior and junior cricketers have the same problem when they are some kind of pressure situation , they just can not overcome those situations being cool head. Domestic cricket should be more competitive with balanced teams and schedule, format. Pitches must be more standard and difficult. Which can make each match closely contested.

  • Farhan on February 19, 2014, 17:04 GMT

    @ Herath-UK : Are you kidding me? These matches could be anything but boring? Two T20 went to the last ball. The first ODI was well fought. How on earth anyone get bored of such cricket matches? May be you don't understand cricket or may be you are just one of those fan boy with a weak heart who can't cope with the excitement. Stop watching cricket if you don't like such contest where both team fight hard to win. People like you should use their brain a little more before making comment on public forum haha

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