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Bangladesh's outdated thinking on spin strikes again

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Should Mashrafe drop himself? (1:22)

Ajit Agarkar and Daren Ganga discuss whether the Bangladesh captain is offering enough to warrant his place in the XI. (1:22)

By the end of 15 overs, Shakib Al Hasan had completed seven of his quota. He was economical but England had moved to 101 for no loss. His three remaining overs therefore had to be rationed heavily, leaving Mashrafe Mortaza without his banker for a vast spread of the innings. But that's where Mashrafe, despite being Bangladesh's most successful captain, operates like his predecessors.

There's a long-held tradition in the Bangladesh team that an orthodox offspinner is best used against left-handers, while left-arm spinners are deemed most effective against right-handed batsmen. While it is technically fine, the captains have always focused on the reverse side of it. They sweat over not using left-arm spinners against left-handers, and offspinners against right-handers.

Even on a big stage like the World Cup, against tournament favourites England who bat at a higher gear than most other teams, Mashrafe let a questionable tradition restrict his bowling changes. Only because Bangladesh don't use offspinners against right-handers, he used Shakib for too long.

It had a chain effect on the rest of his bowling changes.

Bangladesh finally introduced Mehidy Hasan in the 17th over. He held his own in the four-over spell, and while the England scoring rate caught up with all the Bangladesh bowlers, Mehidy didn't really have a bad day. He was facing serious danger against Jason Roy, after being hit for three sixes from the first three balls of his sixth over, but a subtle change of line brought about Roy's wicket.

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With Eoin Morgan, a left-hander, out next, Mashrafe then turned to Mosaddek Hossain, his other offspinner, who was heavily used in both games at The Oval in the middle part of the innings.

Mehidy finished his spell without conceding a boundary in the 47th over and while the irony won't be lost as he bowled only to left-handers Morgan and Ben Stokes, the bottom line is that he is a good bowler, and has trained himself to be equally skilled against right and left-handers (he was the only Bangladeshi to keep Jos Buttler to less than a run a ball). The same is obviously true for Shakib.

Even the initial thinking of opening the bowling with Shakib was, at best, a popular choice. Roy is perceived to be weak against spin with the new ball; both South Africa and Pakistan tried it with wristspinners in England's previous games, with mixed results. But Roy bats at a strike rate of 113.69 against spin in the first Powerplay, which suggests it is a high-risk move if he doesn't get out.

What also didn't help Mashrafe was Mohammad Saifuddin and Mustafizur Rahman having off-days. Because of his decision not to use Mosaddek in the middle overs, Mohammad Saifuddin was given four spells. Even when Saifuddin was hit for 16 off his first over, Mashrafe gave him two more overs just to make up for not using anyone else from that end.

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It is often said that when Bangladesh started to win some games around the 2009 mark, Jamie Siddons, the former head coach credited for ushering in a new generation of cricketers, had introduced them this concept, among several things he taught them. While Shakib, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Mashrafe have fallen back on plenty of Siddons' tactical nous over the years, it is this one that has irked many.

The most famous occasion when a captain's rigidness when using the two types of spinners came forth was during an ODI five years ago in Chittagong. Sri Lanka were reduced to 67 for 8 in the 22nd over; Mushfiqur refused to use Shakib against Thisara Perera, who eventually remained unbeaten on 80. They dropped Thisara three times to boot, once off left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny early on, but it was clear that Mushfiqur wasn't interested in using Shakib, his best bowler.

These regressive mindsets haven't left Bangladesh cricket, and it is sometimes bemusing to find Mashrafe, regarded as a progressive captain, sticking to such thinking. It wouldn't have been a huge risk to use Mehidy in the first Powerplay, and it is unlikely he would have made a huge difference -but it was this long-held notion that shut down one side of the captain's thinking process.