Shakib calls for top-order push in Powerplays
Bangladesh's batting in the Powerplay is the aspect of their game that requires most urgent improvement, allrounder Shakib Al Hasan had said on the eve of the match against Australia.
Missing star opener Tamim Iqbal through injury, Bangladesh made only 33 in their first six overs against Australia, on a Bangalore surface that had been expected to be good for batting. That slow start, and the frequent loss of wickets through the middle overs, put the team on course for the relatively modest total of 156 for 5.
"I think we can improve in the first six overs, with our batting," Shakib said. "We scored only 30-odd runs in our six overs. Here in India most of the teams are scoring 45-50 runs in the first six overs because that's the best time to bat, I feel. I think that's the part where we lost the game. If we had scored 15-20 runs more, that would have been a different ball game altogether. Batsmen who are getting runs need to contribute a bit more and finish the game. We need to get 170-180 runs, since that's what the average score is on this ground."
Shakib said he would relish the chance to be part of that top-order push. He has been batting at no. 4 in this tournament, but has put his hand up for a promotion. Shakib has batted at no. 3 on 16 occasions, and has hit 519 runs at an average of 37.07, which represents much better returns than he has had from other positions. His career average in T20 internationals is 24.52.
"It depends on what the team wants from me," he said. "I would bat at no. 3 if given the option. I had done well in that position. The team's situation and demands requires me to bat at no. 4. My personal opinion is that I prefer batting at no. 3, but I don't mind batting anywhere."
Bangladesh had also dropped two catches in the match against Ausralia, including a crucial one in the first six overs of the chase. Shakib, though, felt it was important not to read too much into those errors.
"We would like to take all the catches. We'd love to save runs in ground fielding. We couldn't do it yesterday. It was disappointing because we have some young players and we have some outstanding fielders. If you look at our side, most of the matches we have been doing really well in fielding. These things might happen in one or two games. Anyone can miss a catch. I don't want to make that an excuse for the loss."
Captain Mashrafe Mortaza had been emotional in his defence of suspended fast bowler Taskin Ahmed, who, he felt, did not have a faulty action. Shakib said Bangladesh had been affected by the suspensions, but was keen to shift the focus to the coming matches.
"Taskin was bowling well for us for the last six months or so - so yes, he was an important part of the team. But it's not like everything has ended because he can't play for the next few games or so. I believe we still have a team that can do well in tomorrow's game against India."
Bangladesh have recently had considerable success in ODIs, but are yet to beat India in T20Is, in four attempts. India had defeated them at home twice already this month, during the group stage and final of the Asia Cup, but Shakib said Bangladesh remained a confident side.
"The mindset has certainly changed a lot in the last three or four years. Now we know how we can win games. We have some very good players. They can win games for the team. We have more contributors in the side now. Previously it was two or three guys, now it's four or five who contribute regularly. These are the big changes that have happened. When we play at home we have been doing so well, so that confidence gives us a chance to show that in different conditions, we can still do well."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando