Bangladesh's weak T20 bowling worries Mushfiqur
Mushfiqur Rahim, the Bangladesh captain, expressed concern over the failure of his bowlers to defend scores of 171 and 188 in the Twenty20 Challenge Series against Bangladesh A. Mushfiqur captained a side that lost all three games against Bangladesh A, including the final T20 on Saturday.
The poor bowling by the senior side is an extension of a trend where they managed to restrict international teams to a score of less than 150 only once in their last seven matches. Bangladesh conceded 204 runs against New Zealand last month and were also hit for 190-plus totals on three occasions in the last two years.
On Saturday, Mashrafe Mortaza and Rubel Hossain were blasted out of the attack, each conceding more than 10 runs an over from their three overs. Al-Amin Hossain picked up two wickets but he, too, gave away 28 runs in 2.3 overs. For Bangladesh, the more concerning performances came from Abdur Razzak, who gave away 45 runs in three overs, and Sohag Gazi, who was taken for 26 in his two overs.
"The matches were quite one-sided so we are concerned, particularly about our bowling," Mushfiqur said. "Our biggest problem was batting but over the last 12 months, we have improved in that area. We have scored 170-plus regularly. Our worry is bowling in the first six overs and at the death. We must work in these areas.
"Bowlers will leak runs on such a wicket but we have to minimise the damage. We have to practise in these regards. Bowlers have to survive by bowling bouncers and yorkers, in particular. We have enough time to rectify ourselves in these areas."
According to Shane Jurgensen, the Bangladesh coach, the bowlers are yet to bridge the gap between practice and execution. He admitted there is some confusion within the bowling group as they seem to do well in one-day cricket but have delivered different results in T20s.
"We had set up this week to put the bowlers in tough situations so to be fair on them, they tried hard," Jurgensen said. "But we are still struggling to execute what we learn in practice.
"If a bowler is confused from the top of the mark as to what he wants to bowl, then he is not in the right frame of mind. I think we have enough time to mend these problems, and yes, more matches would be helpful."
Faruque Ahmed, the newly appointed chief selector, said the batsmen, too, needed to have better plans.
"I would consider these matches as practice matches, but I would have felt better if the national team had won one or two games," Ahmed said. "Bangladesh A played hard to win all three matches, very easily. Mominul Haque and Nasir Hossain had important roles to play.
"It helps the team to play these matches. I think the senior side lacked in batting plans. We have to play more matches to improve and understand the game, and prepare better for the next matches. The bowling wasn't good today, probably because the wicket was really good for batting."
The three members of Bangladesh's team management agreed that a few new players were staking a serious claim for a place in the national side. Jurgensen saw T20 potential in Muktar Ali's ability to bowl accurately, while Faruque believed that Sabbir Rahman was a contender for the allrounder's role in the lower-middle order. Mushfiqur, too, spoke about the cricketers he believed would push the national players.
"We have guys like Farhad Reza, Muktar Ali, Arafat Sunny, Rumman [Sabbir Rahman] and Mithun Ali who have done well. We want these players to push us in the senior side," Mushfiqur said. "We have more matches in the near future when we will monitor performances of these players as well as those from the Bangladesh team."
The senior side is likely to play another set of T20 matches in the coming weeks as the Bangladesh Cricket Board is looking to arrange another short tournament before the National Cricket League, the country's first-class competition.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here