Crowds turn on beleaguered captain November 11, 2003

Time is running out for weary Mahmud

Khaled Mahmud: Under fire
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Time appears to be running out for Khaled Mahmud, Bangladesh's increasingly isolated captain. One of the weakest links in the side as a player - and that is saying something in a far from accomplished squad - Mahmud is now under fire from Bangladesh supporters after two heavy defeats in the ODIs against England.

"It's really difficult to explain such a situation, but again that can not be an excuse for another poor show," a weary Mahmud told reporters. "I'm upset. We need to sit again and discuss what's wrong with us."

Mahmud was the target of the Dhaka crowd's anger, ridiculed when he was dismissed for 4 - an innings described by one commentator as "utterly clueless" - and booed during the post-match awards ceremony. He cast a sorry and lonely figure, and it can only be a matter of time before the calls from the stands for him to be replaced are heeded. "There will always be pressure when you play at home," he shrugged. "The crowd was shouting even when I was going out for the toss. That kind of reaction from the supporters is very painful. It hurts a lot.

"This streak of bad form won't last if we can perform to our potential," he added. "That's the main target. We've got to put some runs on the board."

Dav Whatmore was another bemused by Bangladesh's capitulation, although his job is safe given the improvements to the side's performances against Australia and Pakistan. But he looked a sorry figure as he watched Bangladesh's top order disintegrate for the second time in four days, and admitted that he was at a loss to explain yet another abject batting performance.

Whatmore smiled when asked what the difference was between the two matches. "In Chittagong we lost five wickets in between 10 to 20 overs," he said. "In Dhaka, we lost the wickets in the first ten overs. May be it was the only difference." But he emphasised that he had tried to instill the need for patience and thought about shot selection, a message seemingly lost on the batsmen. "Maybe some people didn't really understand what I meant," he shrugged.

One controversial decision was the omission of Habibul Bashar, considered by many to be Bangladesh's best batsman, from the second ODI. Mahmud tried to diffuse criticism, explaining that Bashar was "not performing in the one-day game. That's why we thought of introducing Moniruzzaman while giving him a rest." Like so many of Mahmud's gambles, it didn't pay off. Moniruzzaman made a duck and then put down Man of the Match Andrew Flintoff.

Soon it could be Mahmud who is the one being dropped.