Bangladesh's batsmen have to trust their own skills at the World Cup rather than be swayed by prevailing global standards, according to their batting coach Neil McKenzie. Most of Bangladesh's success over the past four years has come on slow and low pitches at home, and the odd ODI series win in West Indies where the pitches had a bit more pace. Bangladesh are still reliant on scores in the 280-to-300 range, which they have backed their bowlers to defend.
While they have enjoyed impressive results as an ODI side in this period, their batsmen haven't matched those of sides like England or India who have regularly racked up 350-plus totals.
One of the reasons is the lack of a big hitter at No. 6 or 7, although Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim have contributed heavily in the slog overs. McKenzie said Bangladesh mustn't focus on what they don't have, but think about how they can maximise their existing skillsets.
"Bangladesh is not going to compete for hitting sixes, with, say, West Indies," McKenzie said. "We are going to be better than them in skilled hitting. Beating cover, running twos, chipping over cover for four. Hitting really well straight. A guy like Mushi can manipulate the pace. We have got so many other attributes. We don't need to be going at fifth gear trying to hit the ball out of the ground chasing eight an over. We are good enough to hit gaps and run well.
"If a guy like Soumya [Sarkar] decides that he is going to take a spinner down, we want him to be positive. We want him to really go for his shots. All the big hitters in the world make mistakes, and have people on their backs, but it is how they react. So it will be a big lesson for a guy like Soumya who is a natural strokeplayer. He has to trust his game. We know he plays well down the ground so if he gets caught every now and then, [it's fine because] that's his gameplan."
McKenzie underlined that temperamental batsmen such as Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das and Sabbir Rahman have to trust themselves to find success in the World Cup. Soumya, Liton and Sabbir have only occasionally translated their undoubted potential into match-winning innings. Their inconsistency has caused many headaches for Bangladesh's captain, coaches and board president.
Soumya impressed during and immediately after the 2015 World Cup, but has gone through prolonged periods of poor form since. Liton and Sabbir have played the odd attractive innings; Liton's 121 against India in the Asia Cup final was a vindication of his talent but there hasn't been much from him thereafter.
McKenzie, who has had to spend a lot of time with these three batsmen in the nets, said that if gameplans are followed properly, success is bound to follow, and that the batsmen won't be at fault if they fail while sticking to those plans.
"They have shown glimpses of what they can do. It is exciting to watch them bat," he said. "I think the three of them don't show fear when they bat. That's when they play at their best. I am hoping that they can play their natural games, and really stand up for Bangladesh.
"They have all had crucial hundreds. I know Sabbir got one in a losing cause in New Zealand, but it will help his career. I think batting the situation and trusting your gameplan [is important]. All three of them have good defenses and attacking game. They are equipped for any situation. It is about using that experience.
"They are young players so they will make mistakes. But it is about learning from your mistakes, not make the same mistakes over and over again. There will be a few occasions when they will mess up, but I think they will be more positive for Bangladesh. We just want them to trust their gameplans, play their shots, and if they get out in their gameplan and shots, there's nothing much we can do. But if they let the pressure get to them and get out to other shots, then we have a little chat about the game situation."
McKenzie felt the key to batting well as a team would be for the set batsman to help the newcomer in the middle, during high-pressure situations in the World Cup. While batting in partnerships has improved for Bangladesh in the past four years, it will be even more crucial in a big tournament.
"I think lot of the guys are enhancing their strength," McKenzie said. "We are challenging them to do a few things differently. We have asked a few questions about scoring options and rotation of strike, and batting for each other.
"When you are batting on 80, you have to get your partner to 10 from nought. Rotation of strike, drop and run. It is more about being aware about someone else's gameplan, what they are looking to do, and batting in partnerships."
McKenzie, who has been lauded within the Bangladesh dressing room for his work with the batsmen, said that Bangladesh's batsmen must ultimately remember the basics of batting in England, which is to play the ball late. "They really have to wait for the ball as long as they can. Batsmen from the subcontinent come forward to hit on the up. You can't do that overseas," he said. "We have identified this, and there's a lot of footage of different bowlers.
"We have hopefully ticked all boxes. Now the individuals have to showcase what they can do. There's a lot of hard work that have gone into it. Passion, talent, skill and knowledge is also not lacking. It is about enjoying the World Cup."