Mortaza expects better from opening batsmen
Bangladesh fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza has said that it is imperative the opening batsmen get off to a strong start in order to ease the pressure on the middle order, ahead of their game against table-leaders India. The openers Anamul Haque and Tamim Iqbal have averaged 30.50 in four T20s this year, but have come up short in the last two games.
Against Hong Kong, Tamim was dismissed in the first over, while against West Indies, the pair added just 14 runs. Tamim has scored just 56 runs in four innings but Anamul has been in good form in limited-overs cricket recently, with an average of 40.66 in the last four games.
"The Asia Cup was 50 overs, whereas here the batsmen get less time and they have to play shots from the start," Mortaza said. "This means there's a greater chance of getting out. Our batsmen couldn't start well in the last game. The middle order and the lower order also didn't score many. They are trying, no doubt about that. Everyone has their plans.
"We plan to start well tomorrow, to ensure we have a set batsman at the crease. At the moment, everything seems to be difficult. I feel that if we can start well tomorrow, it will be easier for us. We lost wickets early against West Indies and Hong Kong. I still believe that our batsmen can dominate top-class attacks."
Bangladesh batted well in their last meeting with India recently, when they posted 279 for 7 in the Asia Cup with Mushfiqur Rahim scoring a hundred and Anamul making 77. Virat Kohli, however, helped India chase it down with relative ease with an aggressive century.
There has been widespread criticism of the Bangladesh team off late, even from the BCB president Nazmul Hassan who said on Wednesday how disappointing it was to see the team go down easily against Hong Kong and West Indies.
Mortaza said the team must accept the criticism, and focus on being more competitive. "I think it is hard to comment on [what the BCB chief has said], as it is only natural for everyone to talk after these two losses. As players, we have to accept it. We have to try and turn it around from the next game. We had a long discussion with him, and he wants to help everyone.
"We have to agree that we lost the last two games badly. Firstly, we have to fight hard. Once we do that, we can play better. We have always won when we have given a good fight. We didn't do that in the last two matches."
Mortaza will be expected to give the team a good start with the ball, particularly with the seamer Al-Amin Hossain who bowled well against West Indies. However, Bangladesh may ultimately look to its spinners to respond in conditions that offer turn and bounce.
"Our spinners have always been a factor, though the pacers have to provide a good start. But when the spinners do well, we win games. We will still need a combined performance, as that often brings us wins. All the bowlers have to do well against India," he said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here