Bangladesh's stumble at the penultimate hurdle in Mirpur has brought into focus their mindset while on the verge of a major outcome. The defeat drew attention to a subconscious lack of belief in their own abilities and apparent satisfaction with limited goals after a period of positive cricket. This is more likely to test them in the last two sessions of a Test, but the team must realise quickly that taking the game into the fifth day alone does not constitute an achievement.
Bangladesh's approach was confusing from the outset in the chase. They were slow off the blocks and lost early wickets. They lost five wickets in the two hours after lunch, which left them having too much to do in the final session. They batted at a tepid pace, and seemed daunted by the prospect of surviving 70-odd overs or even winning a Test. Captain Mushfiqur Rahim said their plan was to keep six wickets in hand in the final session to win. At no stage during the innings, in which they lost wickets regularly, did the team think of playing for a draw.
Bangladesh bat deep and had as many as eight batsmen. They reached their highest Test score in the first innings, but should have been more useful in the second. They lacked imagination in the chase and the will to bat it out, with only Mahmudullah showing some determination in the last hour of the match.
Mushfiqur also pointed to the lack of experience in the fourth innings as one of the causes for the defeat. The last Bangladesh were set a target under 300, they beat a weakened West Indies in 2009. The quality of the bowling attack was better in Mirpur, but what matters is a winning approach and, in Tests, Bangladesh haven't developed one yet.
In the one-dayers, Bangladesh have chased quite well, but, again, there hasn't been consistency. They lost to Pakistan in the Asia Cup final, chasing a total lower than the one they overhauled against India, and with a less-demanding asking-rate than they faced against Sri Lanka. The occasion gets to them.
Five batsmen scored more than 50 in Bangladesh's first innings, but none went past 30 in the second. There's been a trend of Bangladesh batsmen not building on a positive start to the series, and that doesn't augur well for the next Test in Khulna. Only once has a Bangladesh batsman scored more than 300 runs in a series.
Once the game was over, Mushfiqur said the concern ahead of the Test was to last the five days. Taking the game into the final day seemed to be the key for a team playing it's first Test this year. The ICC president Alan Isaac cited the example of New Zealand, saying the team could play more Tests against the better-ranked teams if it performed more often against them. It seems a vicious cycle for Bangladesh, because they play so few Tests, and are unlikely to get more opportunities if they perform only every once in a while.