The 10-wicket drubbing by Sri Lanka has served as a wake-up call for Bangladesh, their captain Mashrafe Mortaza has said. He hoped the middle order could do better in the final in the event that both Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, the two in-form batsmen, fall cheaply again.
Between them, Tamim and Shakib had scored five half-centuries in Bangladesh's first three matches of the tri-nation series. On Thursday, both fell for single-digit scores as Bangladesh collapsed to 82 all out. The middle-order trio of Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman and Nasir Hossain made 7, 10 and 3 respectively, and Mashrafe warned his team from relying too much on Shakib, whose promotion to No 3 has opened up opportunities for the rest of the batting line-up.
"It is a nice wake-up call," Mashrafe said. "We have found out how poorly we can play on our bad day. There's no guarantee of not losing Shakib and Tamim early in the final, so now we have an idea. [Mahmudullah] Riyad has handled these situations in the past. Sabbir played his 50th ODI today. They have the ability.
"I think the top-order's failure today exposed the middle-order but this wasn't the extent we had expected. There was no need to rush after four wickets fell. Strike-rate of 50 could have been pushed up to 75 or 80 later on. We have to discuss whether this was thought about, in the middle. Shakib has played at No 5 for the last 10-11 years. It is now up to the middle-order to take responsibility. We can't keep playing around Shakib."
According to Mashrafe, Nasir and Sabbir are perhaps having finding it difficult to curtail their free-scoring approach when the situation demands it. With his side 57 for four in the 17th over, Sabbir charged Thisara Perera and toe-ended an attempted big hit to mid-on. Nasir, meanwhile, tickled a Dushmantha Chameera delivery that was way down the leg-side. His failure in this game left him with only five runs from his last three innings.
"Possibly they are not able to absorb the pressure," Mashrafe said. "Maybe they like to score runs quickly rather than spend time in the middle. In our first-class cricket, they have 100 strike-rate after early wickets. It is possibly beyond our nature to slow down after the fall of few wickets.
"I think they are feeling guilty, probably more than me. I would want them to think about it before the final, but they should also remain positive."
Anamul Haque remains a cause for concern as well. He was the first wicket to fall in this game, dragging a wide delivery back onto his stumps, giving him a total of 55 runs in four innings thus far in the series. He hasn't managed to replicate his domestic form upon his return to international cricket after two years, which has coincided with plenty of social-media clamor calling for his selection.
"There has been a lot of talk about [Anamul] Bijoy, that he is scoring runs in all levels," Mashrafe said. "I think more than us, you have exposed him more, which is true. But we have full faith in him, which is why he is still playing continuously."