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Batting reshuffle a needless complication

The 10,000-plus people who turned up to create a raucous atmosphere in Canberra gave Bangladesh a little taste of home. But the players were far from known conditions against Afghanistan and will be even further away in Brisbane.

Although the threat of Cyclone Marcia is hovering over Saturday's Australia-Bangladesh game, even a bit of cricket at the Gabba will be demanding for the Bangladesh batting line-up that has not fully grasped the nuances of Australian conditions.

Then came the reshuffle in the batting order which had them cornered by the 30th over against Afghanistan. Although some of the batsmen took it into their strides, the rejig seems to add to the challenges the batsmen face.

Shakib Al Hasan batted at No 5, the only one in the top six to stick to his usual position. Soumya Sarkar had only one outing at No 3 in List-A cricket before playing his first two ODIs at this position; Mahmudullah is new at No 4 while Mushfiqur, who bats his best at No 4, batted at No 6. They were not exactly uncomfortable but have been given little time to grow into their new roles.

The batsmen have never publicly criticised or discussed their preferred batting positions but they looked jittery for about 30 overs before Shakib and Mushfiqur rescued the innings. The only hitch was that by the time this pair were having a measure of the bowling attack, the slog overs had come. Leaving only 20.5 overs for your top pair seemed counter-intuitive.

Sarkar impressed with his positive approach while trying to up the slagging run-rate, but he is essentially an opener. Mahmudullah looked to be stuck in first gear while Mominul Haque, who came in at No 9, usually needs time to get going. Still, personal sacrifices were the order of the day, and some should be lauded for adjusting and keeping their shape in a tricky game.

Anamul Haque taking first strike for only the ninth time in his ODI career was the portent of the change. It was the first time in eight years for Tamim Iqbal to not face the first bal. Incredibly, Tamim has always taken first strike in Tests and T20s.

Such a small change has little consequence on the match but it was a not so subtle signal from Tamim that all was not right with his confidence, particularly after the arthroscopic surgery on his left knee a couple of months ago. And that wasn't the only change in the batting line-up.

Mahmudullah batted at No 4 for only the fifth time in his career though four of those occasions have come in the last four Bangladesh matches. Mushfiqur is also increasingly shifted to bat at No 6, as he did against Afghanistan, a position he is accustomed to in ODIs, but most of his recent successes have at No 4.

There remains room for adjustments but the batsmen ought to be given sufficient time. Mominul was wasted lower down the order but Mashrafe later explained that he was their insurance in case of a batting collapse which Bangladesh have had plenty of in the last 12 months. The recent batting debacles in the four practice matches too surely played in the team management's mind.

To use eight batsmen against Afghanistan was ultimately defensive on Bangladesh's part. Against higher-ranked teams, another spinner would most likely be used in place of the eighth batsman. The chop could fall on Mominul, and that will be a bigger sacrifice on his part than for the team. It will be these big and small sacrifices that the Bangladesh players would have to make throughout this tough World Cup campaign.