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Mohammad Isam in Pallekele
March 30, 2013
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim wants to utilize the tour-ending Twenty20 against Sri Lanka to cure a number of ills that prevail in his side, especially with the home side fielding a young squad without some influential players.
The biggest absentees, to the relief of Bangladesh, are Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara, two batsmen who scored heavily over the past month. To be excused the sight of these two has given Mushfiqur reason to plan differently and psyche his teammates appropriately. Also missing is Mahela Jayawardene, who was not picked despite recovering from a fractured finger.
"It is a big opportunity for us to be competitive against them, the No. 1 team in Twenty20s, and push for a win," Mushfiqur said. "They are without [Kumar] Sangakkara and [Tillekaratne] Dilshan, who have troubled us all tour."
Sri Lanka have included five young uncapped players for the T20 and another player, Kithuruwan Vithanage, who made his Test debut against Bangladesh earlier this month, is yet to play in the shortest format for his country.
"They have a quite a young side, but they're playing at home," Mushfiqur said. "They definitely have the potential to do well. I know some of the new players from the time I played in the Sri Lanka Premier League. I shared my thoughts regarding their skills with my team-mates. There are also a few who played in the warm-up matches so we know quite a bit."
The other factor in Bangladesh's favour is the momentum from the ODI series which they managed to draw 1-1 through a frenetic chase in the final game after rain took away more than two hours from their innings. The interruption left them with an asking-rate of than eight runs an over, which they overcame.
"The last game had a Twenty20-type run chase. So you can say we had some practice, which I see as a positive. No one is a favourite in Twenty20 cricket, but we would like to carry over the momentum from the rest of the tour."
More than the rookie opponents, the Bangladesh captain was concerned about the team's inability to close out tours properly and the overall shortage of Twenty20 skills in the side. Over the last decade one feature that has been noticed is how poorly Bangladesh have played when their departure is near. It has even afflicted them during a short Twenty20 tour to the Netherlands last year when they lost to the hosts in the last game.
"It has happened in the past that we end tours on a bad note. This is a huge opportunity to reverse the trend. We have had a lot of positives from this tour, so I would like to go back home with another win. We want to grab this chance with both hands, because we don't have a good record in Twenty20s. We will have to get our basics right, results are for later."
Indeed it will be the basics that they would have to correct as they have often gone missing in the rush of a Twenty20 game. The bowlers often suffer, delivering poor lengths during the first six overs of the Powerplay as well as towards the end when they are usually facing big hitters. Mushfiqur brought to notice the diverse skills of Lasith Malinga when compared to the deficiency of skills among his bowlers in this format.
"We lack in skills and mentality in Twenty20s compared to other teams and individuals. But we are changing in the last two years in terms of mental and physical strength and skills. Our team is doing well without big performers, which is a good sign.
"Malinga has three or four variations and if he uses it in 24 balls, it is not easy to score against him. Our bowlers are developing new skills, but it will take time. The more Twenty20s we play, we will know what areas we need to work on."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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