Bangladesh batters too easily satisfied, says S Sriram

Technical consultant during the World Cup says the team needs to find a way to score 300-plus consistently in ODIs

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Bangladesh's batters were easily satisfied with their first milestone - a half-century - during the 2023 ODI World Cup and that contributed significantly to their eighth-place finish in the league stage, according to S Sriram, their technical consultant during the tournament.
With no hundreds from any of their batters apart from Mahmudullah, Bangladesh won only two of their nine matches - against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka - and just about secured qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy. Sriram said the team needed to find a way to score 330-plus to remain competitive in ODI cricket.
"Our inability to get meaningful hundreds is what hurt the team the most," Sriram told ESPNcricinfo. "The top-four batters not getting even one hundred is the most disappointing part of the team. The teams that qualified, they have guys who are scoring double-hundreds. I think you win 50-over games in India when someone gets 130-140, and then if you have enough power around that guy, we can put up scores of 330-340. That's where the game is in India, especially where the wickets are so good. It is slightly different than what we see in Bangladesh. I think that's where we missed out a little bit."
The ODI World Cup was Sriram's second stint with the national team, and as a former India cricketer with knowledge of the conditions as player and coach, the expectation from the board was for him to provide information that would enhance Bangladesh's performance. While Sriram stressed on the importance of a big top-order hundred, Bangladesh and Netherlands were the only teams without a hundred from their top-three batters during the World Cup.
The new opener Tanzid Hasan , Sriram said, showed a lack of hunger even when he had the bowling under control, like during his 51 against India in Pune.
"Shanto is someone who wants to get better every day as a batter, person and team man. He wants his team to win. These two are his greatest qualities"
Sriram on Najmul Hossain Shanto
"[Tanzid] had everything going for him in that fifty against India. The bowlers were under his control. The wicket was so good. Kuldeep Yadav was only one over away from being taken off the bowling attack. Somebody else would have come [to bowl]. Bangladesh were 97 (93) for no loss, so if he had converted that fifty into a hundred, you wouldn't even ask me this question. That's where he let himself down big time. That's where the mentality has to change. They are satisfied with an international fifty."
Sriram said Tanzid could learn from Najmul Hossain Shanto, who had a stellar 12 months leading into the World Cup across formats. He converted four of his 13 50-plus scores into centuries and cemented his place as the No. 3. Sriram also said New Zealand's Rachin Ravindra was the World Cup's best example of a young batter fulfilling his potential.
"I think Shanto has raised the bar for younger players, by converting his fifties to hundreds in the last six to eight months. If Tanzid doesn't get satisfied whenever he gets a fifty, and puts the foot on the pedal, he can get hundreds. I think he has huge potential.
"My genuine concern is with these players getting satisfied with fifties. You have to push their boundaries and get big scores. That's where world cricket is going nowadays. All the youngsters coming through are being able to convert fifties to hundreds. Rachin Ravindra is a great example. Take a cue and lead from these players, and be hungry for bigger scores."
The most visible of Bangladesh's problems during the World Cup, however, was their constant shuffling of the batting order. The prime focus was to utilise Mehidy Hasan Miraz's good form, often at the cost of stability in the line-up. Mehidy batted at five different positions - from No. 3 to No. 8 - in nine World Cup innings.
"It has been discussed a lot, and a lot of people have spoken about it," Sriram said. "I don't know the conversations that happened before the World Cup, whether they wanted stability or the team wanted to play the match-up game. My understanding was, how can we make best use of Miraz as an allrounder. He sometimes doesn't have the power to hit sixes from No. 8. But he has a good temperament, he can build partnerships, he is busy, he can rotate strike, he can soak in the pressure. If we can make use of that, wouldn't that give us more firepower at the back end?
"We know how [Towhid] Hridoy can bat in T20s and the way Mahmudullah got the experience. It was mainly the conversation to lengthen the batting and give us a little more firepower at the back end. Miraz is a touch player. He has qualities as a batter. I think the main thing was, can we maximise his potential? That was the thinking, as far as I am concerned."
Among those who got displaced was Shanto, Bangladesh's most in-form batter coming into the World Cup. He ended the tournament with just two half-centuries in nine innings and reached double-figures just three times.
"Shanto is someone who wants to get better every day as a batter, person and team-man," Sriram said. "He wants his team to win. I think he was unlucky couple of times. Getting run out for 45 in the last game would have hurt him. He could have got a hundred against Sri Lanka. So little things like that would hurt him a lot more. Getting out early is part of the game. He got out caught down the leg side twice. There were a few unlucky dismissals in between. His biggest learning would be to get a big score whenever he gets a start.
"There is not even a question [that he won't bounce back]. You have seen his form in the last two games. His 90 against Sri Lanka was an amazing innings. Even the 45 against Australia showed the ability to carry on the run rate, which was excellent. His run out was unnecessary and unfortunate."
Another batter who didn't live up to his potential was Litton Das. Often described as the most elegant batter in the team, Litton got out to soft dismissals often in the tournament, and the BCB is reportedly worried about his lack of focus.
"He [Litton] is frustrated with himself more than anyone else," Sriram said. "He knows his potential. He plays world-class shots but to not be able to do it for longer period of time, frustrates him a little bit. He is also frustrated by the ways he gets out.
"Our last conversation was that he said, 'Coach, I know what you are thinking. Don't even talk about it. I will figure this out and come back strongly'. Some players go through this. They take longer to unlock their potential. I think it is good that he is thinking that he has the potential but he is letting himself and the team down."
Going forward, Sriram said Bangladesh needed to work out a way of scoring 300-plus consistently in ODIs. "I don't think they have much other choice," he said. "That's the minimum score you need to start winning games. You have to find ways to get 300-350 runs. Once you know you can get 85-100 runs in the last ten overs on a consistent basis, it will make batting in the first 40 overs a little bit easier.
"There are a lot of ways to do it. One way is to keep wickets in hand and bat deep. Another way is to keep going hard right through. Bangladesh should figure out what works for them, and give people the right roles. I think getting hundreds from the top four is non-negotiable."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84