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Bangladesh have been more inexperienced than they would prefer at the start of the ODI series with West Indies but their senior players have done more than lead from the front
Mohammad Isam in Khulna
December 2, 2012
News : Anamul delivers under expectation
Report : Bangladesh thrash West Indies to record biggest win
News : First hours of both innings crucial - Mortaza
Matches: Bangladesh v West Indies at Khulna
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of Bangladesh
The contribution of Abdur Razzak and Mashrafe Mortaza in Bangladesh's 160-run win is four West Indies wickets. Their other major say in the 2-0 series lead has been their self-confidence and its spillover on to the rest of the team.
Bangladesh are unusually more inexperienced in this ODI series with four players making their debut in the first game, making it important for the senior players to not just walk the walk but to also maintain a settled dressing room.
The afternoon when Bangladesh had lost the Test series, Mashrafe had already arrived ahead of the rest of the players picked for the ODI series. He had seen a glum camp and immediately made plans for a trip to Narail, his home district which is nearly 100km north of Khulna. The players went two days before the first ODI, had a relaxed time in his house, and in their boat rides in the Chitra River. Whether that helped the team is another matter but Mashrafe's exuberance has won over many a dressing room.
"That disappointment is why I took them to Narail," Mashrafe told ESPNcricinfo. "It is important to talk to the younger players. I often speak to them about various aspects of the game. At the same time, it is not just the talking but the performance afterwards that matters too."
Ahead of the second game, Mashrafe pointed out the importance of making good starts with bat and ball, and it actually panned out like he had said. Bangladesh lost two early wickets in the morning but Anamul Haque and captain Mushfiqur Rahim held sway from the 7th over while with the ball it was Sohag Gazi and Mashrafe who ensured a sound start to the defence of 292.
"This time different players are performing, not just the one or two usual faces," Mashrafe said. "In the first game, Tamim and Naeem scored runs while today you saw Anamul and Mushfiqur making the important runs. To have a number of contributors is a major improvement in our team and I like the way these youngsters have come through in the first two games."
He also explains to the bowlers in Bangla after the coach has spoken to them in English in their separate bowlers' meetings, just to make sure everyone is in the same page and has understood what has been said. Apart from these little things, Mashrafe does a fine job with the new ball. Although he hasn't reached the fitness levels to play the longer format, his value as a one-day bowler is quite high. In the first game of the series, his first spell of seven overs kept Chris Gayle and Lendl Simmons quiet in the first ten overs, the latter falling to his in-ducker in the 11th over. Mashrafe did a similar job in the second game, but here his first spell did more damage as he removed Gayle despite getting hit - and not just for fours and sixes.
|The team is fortunate that they have had Mashrafe and Razzak to keep speaking to teammates who need a bit of direction in international cricket.|
It set the scene nicely for Razzak and Gazi who then ran through the middle-order, taking three wickets each. Razzak, the country's highest wicket-taker in ODIs, removed the big-hitting Dwayne Smith with a leg-before decision that could have gone either way but went in Razzak's favour. He straightened one to Darren Bravo an over later which caught his outside edge and Mushfiqur juggled and completed the catch. Devon Thomas was sent back two balls later, a beauty of an arm ball that went through bat and pad.
Razzak, like Mashrafe, is from the southwest, a town called Bagerhat which is 30km south of Khulna city towards the Bay of Bengal. He has also been a figure that has stabilised the team, particularly adding much-needed balance to the spin attack in the absence of Shakib Al Hasan. He has the knack of controlling one end with a very straight line of attack, the variations coming to his aid when he wants to take a wicket.
Despite the proximity of their hometowns, they have taken different routes to the national team. Razzak is a graduate of the Bangladesh Institute of Sport who turned into a Dhaka Premier League star through bags of wickets. Mashrafe is younger than Razzak but had started playing for Bangladesh three years earlier when he shot to fame in an age-group tournament and was slotted into the Test side.
But both need to feel comfortable in the team environment, and this time they seem happy. Mashrafe's relationship with Shane Jurgensen has made him feel at ease. Previously he has had communication gaps with coaches who saw him fleetingly due to his injuries. Razzak, meanwhile, has thrived in the confidence of his 43 wickets from five first-class matches this season.
The difference between Bangladesh teams of old and the ones in this decade is that they listen to all contributors and not just senior figures, which has often come under fire. Mashrafe and Razzak have had the wickets to back up the words, and the team is fortunate that they have it in their interest to keep speaking to teammates who need a bit of direction in international cricket.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondentFeeds: Mohammad Isam
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