'We are equipped with both spin and pace' - Hathurusingha
Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha has said that his team's mentality has improved considerably over the last 12 months, especially since the start of last year's series against Zimbabwe. The home side was having a horrible 2014 until they beat Zimbabwe 3-0 and 5-0 in Tests and ODIs respectively, and have been a completely different side in 2015.
"The mindset is the main difference from last time," Hathurusingha said. "We were not sure of our ceiling. Now they have started to believe and they have proved themselves. Mindset is a huge thing in this game. We can see that it is different, in our performance."
Hathurusingha welcomed the approach of Shakib Al Hasan who said a couple of days ago that now they have to dominate Zimbabwe having thrashed them the last time. Bangladesh are currently 8-6 ahead in terms of ODI series wins over Zimbabwe.
"It is a good mindset to have as a player, that is his confidence," Hathurusingha said. "We played dominating cricket against ever team in the last three series. We beat them by seven or eight wickets or 80-odd runs. I think it is the way we play. If we play to our gameplan, we can beat any team with a big margin."
Hathurusingha also said that competition for places in the side has added to the new attitude of the players constantly pushing themselves. There have not been many times in Bangladesh's cricket history that the senior team had players knocking on the doors for almost every position. A case in point is the inclusion of Al-Amin Hossain, a pace bowler who went through the grind of international cricket in 2014, and Kamrul Islam Rabbi, who has been tipped to be in the Bangladesh team for a while now, in place of the injured Taskin Ahmed and Rubel Hossain, both having been playing regularly for Bangladesh.
Not many half-cooked players now get called up to the Bangladesh team. Hathurusingha expressed that it would now be dangerous for any player to take his place for granted.
"Having an internal competition is a good thing. Players know they have to perform," he said. "Sportsmen are driven by challenges. The guys coming in are capable of doing a job. We are in a good situation in that regard.
"There's no meter to see complacency and there's no complacency in our team. They are playing for the national team. No one is taking things for granted. There's a lot of competition for the places. Whoever is taking things lightly, it will be a very dangerous situation."
Bangladesh's recent dependency on pace is also likely to give Hathurusingha and the rest of the team management some food for thought. Traditionally spin has been the main difference between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
But the emergence of Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed, under Mashrafe Mortaza, means that the home side could choose either pace or spin to attack the visitors. Hathurusingha said that in most cases, Bangladesh would try to attack the opposition's weakness.
"We have been playing both ways according to the opposition's limitation, I think we are equipped with both spin and pace," he said. "We have enough spin to cause trouble for any opposition.
"Don't expect Mustafizur to come up every time we get someone, because he is unique. I am not putting any pressure on Rabbi. He is in the team on merit. He has been doing well in domestic cricket. He can do same thing if he is playing."
Hathurusingha brushed aside any concern regarding the form of Soumya Sarkar and Liton Das, who made 99 and 78 runs respectively in five innings for Bangladesh A in South Africa recently. Although Liton got two fifties for Bangladesh A in India in September, he still has only a single Test fifty so far. Soumya on the other hand was prolific against South Africa in July this year but has had his form taper off since then.
"I don't have any concern [about them]. Both of them are world-class players," Hathurusingha said. "You have seen them performing at home really well. There's no reason they can't do it again. We are trying to give them as much opportunity and experience in different conditions. That's why we sent them on A tours. They are young players with enough potential.
"Form plays a part in a player's mind, especially batters. When you come with a good score they have freedom. We always focus on the first 20 balls in any game. If you get into the game, they are equipped to play very well in international cricket. They know their roles better in the national team."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84