Top order can afford to settle in - Mushfiqur
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim is willing to allow the top order batsmen to take their time in the middle in T20s, as long as they push harder after getting set. Mushfiqur had factored in the slow pitches in Bangladesh which do not always allow batsmen to go for their shots early.
"The top three batsmen usually set up the game in T20s," Mushfiqur said ahead of Bangladesh's opening qualifier against Afghanistan in Mirpur. "The No.4 also has to join in. I think these batsmen have a lot of responsibilities. The wicket wasn't easy in the practice game against Ireland, making us to start slowly. We targeted 140-150, though Shakib [Al Hasan] and I took it further. If the openers give us a good start, the pressure lessens on the middle order. We would hope for such a start tomorrow, and then from the middle, we will finish it well.
"It was difficult to play shots from the word go in Fatullah, as the wicket was slow. We are willing to give batsmen time in the middle as long as they recover the scoring rate after getting set. The middle and lower order can do that recovery work but the top order can also do it after making a slow start."
Either of Anamul Haque and Shamsur Rahman will be vying to open with Tamim Iqbal, with the former ahead due to a recent ODI century against Pakistan and a half-century against India. However, Shamsur has opened for Bangladesh in their last six T20s.
Shakib and Mushfiqur usually bat at three and four, but there has been talk of slotting in either Mominul Haque or Sabbir Rahman in the top order too. "If either of Sabbir and Mominul plays, we will try to accommodate them in the top order," Mushfiqur said.
"We have enough batsmen and allrounders so we will take a decision on the team after taking a final look at the wicket. The decision will also depend on what balances our team, and in addition, we have a flexible batting line-up so we will be sending batsmen according to the situation."
Putting Shakib and Mushfiqur just after the openers has worked for Bangladesh, but if there has to be a choice between Mominul and Sabbir, it should be the latter. Sabbir has played just one T20 international, against Sri Lanka in Chittagong, but has been successful in domestic cricket in the last 12 months. He also played a match-winning innings for the Bangladesh side against Afghanistan in the 2010 Asian Games gold medal match, and has played similar sort of innings throughout his career. Although Mominul's overall strike-rate is higher than most in the Bangladesh team, he has only played four T20s.
Bangladesh's line-up will become slightly more streamlined as Mushfiqur returns as wicketkeeper, having recovered from a finger injury. He kept against Ireland, and says that he missed captaining from behind the stumps.
"I was feeling great yesterday (in Fatullah against Ireland). I can manage the pain that I am playing with. I can see the team very well from my favoured position. I hope to keep tomorrow as well," he said.
Mushfiqur firmly believes that Bangladesh has earned the amount of expectation that lies on their shoulders. They could be thrown out of the tournament if they lose to Afghanistan but he will take inspiration from home conditions and support.
"I don't think there is a lot of pressure on us. There is always going to be pressure at the international level. The Bangladesh team has earned this expectation and pressure for playing well in the last two years.
"We hope to perform up to expectations. Along with pressure, we have the home ground and support. I hope that with all these advantages, we can start off with a win," Mushfiqur said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here