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Match Analysis

Soft dismissals evoke the old days of Bangladesh cricket

Mushfiqur and Liton were set at the crease when they played iffy shots to get themselves out and give West Indies the advantage

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
13-Feb-2021
Mushfiqur Rahim's wicket gave West Indies an opening and they seized it  •  Raton Gomes/BCB

Mushfiqur Rahim's wicket gave West Indies an opening and they seized it  •  Raton Gomes/BCB

There are moments when it is hard to differentiate between the past and the present of the Bangladesh team. In many facets, they have improved considerably but every so often comes a phase of play that brings into question all the progress they've made in the last ten years.
Seeing Mushfiqur Rahim's dismissal at a critical point during the third day's play of the second Test against West Indies, took the mind back to a dismissal in a similarly tense situation more than nine years ago, in another Dhaka Test against the same opponents.
Bangladesh needed to survive the last day of that 2011 game, with seven wickets in hand. The chase of a target of 508 was out of the question, so it was left to Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur to lead the survival act. After about 18 overs of solidity, Shakib jumped outside off stump and top-edged a scoop off Daren Sammy. Shivnarine Chanderpaul caught him easily at slip.
Bangladesh were bowled out within the next 12 overs, losing the Test by 229 runs.
On Saturday in this game, Mushfiqur (54 of 105) played a reverse sweep that hit the toe of the bat, and looped to cover. Bangladesh had lost Mohammad Mithun in the first hour. Mushfiqur is the most experienced Test batsman in Bangladesh's history, and often bats like it. But the choice of shot was questionable. Mushfiqur, Shakib and Tamim Iqbal remain as important to Bangladesh's batting line-up as they were a decade ago, which is why Mushfiqur's manner of dismissal was odd.
However, this wasn't the first time he had got out to a soft dismissal in Tests. During the 2017 Hyderabad Test, Mushfiqur stood between India and Bangladesh's lower order on the last day. After batting for more than an hour, he was caught at mid-off trying to hit R Ashwin down the ground. A month later in Galle, his dismissal - two balls after lunch on the fifth day with five wickets in hand - precipitated a fast collapse against Sri Lanka. He had tickled Lakshan Sandakan down the legside to be caught behind.
Given Mushfiqur's experience, skill, and technical standing, his conversion rate - seven centuries and 22 fifties - is also below par. He has has also been dismissed between 40 and 69 on 28 occasions, 17 of them caught.
Despite Mushfiqur's dismissal with 55 still required to avoid the follow-on, the home side managed to do it through a 126-run seventh-wicket stand between Liton Das (71 off 133) and Mehidy Hasan Miraz (57 off 140). Bangladesh went through the day's middle session without conceding any wickets.
But shortly after tea, Liton's attempt at a lap-sweep was intercepted by a proactive Jermaine Blackwood, who ran across towards legslip from slip, to complete the catch. With another set batsman falling to a risky shot, Bangladesh lost their remaining three wickets for another 15 runs, giving away a 113-run first-innings lead.
Liton, 26, has seven fifties in 21 Tests, but hasn't scored a century yet, an odd return for someone often talked up as the best batsman of his generation.
There's a reason set batsmen have more to lose than the one who has just come to bat. A set batsman has already invested a lot in the middle. He will be able to make better decisions because he has also got acquainted with the pitch and the overhead conditions and how the outfield is also playing out. He has familiarised himself with the opposition's bowling attack, and whether a particular bowler is trying something different.
Given how Mushfiqur had negotiated West Indies for nearly three hours since the second evening, and Liton for three hours and 34 minutes on the third day, how they got dismissed will come into sharp focus.
It is how the game plays out these days. A great innings can be forgotten quickly, replaced by when, how and what they did to get out. Both Mushfiqur and Liton have one more chance to set the record straight in this game. In a fourth-innings chase or a fight for survival, they will need to be more judicious with their shot selection.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84