Bangladesh batting collectively blunders
If Zimbabwe's 2-1 ODI series victory was fashioned by a collective effort, Bangladesh's loss could be put down to a collective failure. Most of the Bangladesh batsmen could not decide whether to stick to their own game or play according to the situation. A pragmatic approach would have been suited to the early morning conditions, but even when one of the batsmen headed down that road, it was not wholeheartedly.
In all three games, instead, the batsmen played their natural games. It started off well when Tamim Iqbal and Mohammad Ashraful added 65 for the first wicket in the first match of the series. They went after a rusty bowling attack, but later both were dismissed to deliveries on leg stump. The rest of the batting order didn't make much use of the start, as they went thrashing about. Soon it was 94 for 4, as they played one bad shot after another.
Not much time was spent dwelling on these dismissals or the general lax attitude towards the Zimbabwe bowlers, it seemed. The theme continued in the second match, which was against a better bowling attack that included the pace of Kyle Jarvis. The visiting batsmen kept on playing their shots, and sooner or later, they fell prey to their own attitude rather than the conditions.
One would have expected a bit of sobering up in the third game, but once again, nothing changed. This time, admittedly, Bangladesh were first forced into a corner by Brian Vitori's initial burst, but then three of their most experienced batsmen just gave it away. Captain Mushfiqur Rahim's slog sweep was caught at deep midwicket after he resurrected the innings. Shakib Al Hasan suddenly lost his composure as he too went for the slog and, in between, Tamim's heave only took an edge and ended up in the wicketkeeper's glove.
Of the three, to his credit, Tamim did slow the pace purposefully. Two early wickets had had an effect, and for a while he was content at grinding the bowlers rather than playing his own game. Soon enough though, he needed a release and out came the slog. He forgot to shift through the gears one by one, and instead went from first to fifth at one go.
He and Shakib have been nondescript performers on this tour, the latter probably still a bit out of touch due to the long injury break. Tamim is the type of batsman who decides for himself how to approach each game. He has been found out in this series, and has to find out a way out of mediocrity.
Ashraful had a series to forget, and it will put him under some pressure, he having made a comeback mid-season in Sri Lanka. He played one too many shots in the first two innings, before being knocked over by Vitori's bounce in the third game.
Inability to curb natural instincts apart, there are a few more theories as to why such talented batsmen failed so miserably over three ODIs. One of the popular ones is that that they were complacent, and that notion was backed by Mushfiqur's affirmative reply when asked about the same after the third game.
There was definite complacency to the Bangladesh batting, and that they play seven batsmen probably contributes to this relaxed approach in their shot-making; maybe these top-order batsmen are prone to play their shots when there is batting security in the dressing-room. For example, Nasir Hossain bailed Bangladesh out on three occasions, Mahmudullah also helped out, and even Abdur Razzak managed to carry them to a 250-plus score in the second game.
If the talk is about complacency, perhaps there is a need to make the batting line-up more efficient by playing six batsmen instead of seven. There will be more competition for places, and it could solve the problem of the No. 3 position as more batsmen will battle for that spot. By playing seven, the team management maybe courting lethargy, as now everyone in the top order seems to believe there is always someone at six or seven who can clean up their mess.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here