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Match Analysis

Bangladesh's shot-selection in focus as batters make 'mental and technical mistakes'

Batting coach Siddons disappointed with left-handers being dismissed to balls angled in from around the wicket

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Tamim Iqbal wavered from his plan to get his front leg out of the way against incoming deliveries, and paid the ultimate price  •  AFP/Getty Images

Tamim Iqbal wavered from his plan to get his front leg out of the way against incoming deliveries, and paid the ultimate price  •  AFP/Getty Images

There is no doubting that Bangladesh's batters have the ability to fill all areas of a cricket field with their shots, but as they displayed in the first innings in Gqeberha, they can't seem to decide on when to play which shot.
Mushfiqur Rahim's dismissal in particular, getting bowled by missing a reverse sweep soon after reaching his fifty, has brought sharp focus into the team's decision-making. But there were several other shots, too, that came against the run of play.
Bangladesh had promising knocks and put together two decent partnerships, but there was not much else. With Bangladesh batting the way they did, 217 was all they could muster in the first innings.
South Africa conceded several boundaries in the first nine overs on the third morning, but as soon as they tightened up, Mushfiqur and Yasir Ali went into their shells. They scored only 12 runs in 10.2 overs after the initial free-scoring spree, and it resulted in both batters falling to ordinary shots.
Yasir has showed the right intention in his early days in international cricket, but on Sunday, he overlooked the importance of the situation he was batting in. South Africa had lost their last review in the 60th over. It wasn't a big one, but for a line-up five wickets down, this should have been a signal to bat with a bit more freedom.
Instead, Yasir lobbed back a catch at Keshav Maharaj later in the same over. And his more illustrious partner at the other end made a graver error. One ball after he had reached his fifty, Mushfiqur missed with his reverse sweep and the angled Simon Harmer delivery banged into his off stump. One suspects that Mushfiqur had even telegraphed the shot to Harmer.
It was, as a Bangladesh commentator likes to say, "an unnecessary shot". Mushfiqur had already struck Harmer's first ball of the day for four with a conventional sweep. He survived an lbw shout next ball, so the jury is out on whether the reverse sweep was even the right option.
This is Mushfiqur's fourth dismissal playing the reverse sweep in all formats since January 2021. Even though last year he called it one of his favourite shots, the reverse sweep hasn't brought him much success. In fact, during this period, he has struck only two boundaries in 18 attempts playing the shot.
At the end of the second day, batting coach Jamie Siddons had said that Mushfiqur wouldn't let the spinners settle down, but he definitely didn't mean encouraging such an approach with high-risk and low-yield shots.
"We need to be aggressive against the spinners," Siddons said. "We need to take some risks to take the bat-padders out of the game. Mushfiq is normally a great sweeper of the ball. There's a bit of turn and bounce, but we haven't lost a wicket sweeping yet. We lost wickets doing other things. You won't see Rabbi sweep but you will see Mushfiq continue to sweep. It is his strength, and he is still out there. If he hangs around and pokes around, he will probably find himself out. So I think we encourage that. It may be high risk but that's okay."
Bangladesh lost five wickets on the second day, four of them to incoming deliveries. The ones that had the most focus however were the three Wiaan Mulder wickets. Tamim Iqbal, Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mominul Haque all got out lbw to deliveries angled into the stumps from around the wicket.
Siddons said that the batters told him they were trying to hit those deliveries on to the leg side, when the prudent option would have been to play them straight.
"I have spoken to two of the (dismissed) left-handers about their dismissals," Siddons. "Both were trying to hit the ball to the leg side when they know that I talk about clearing their front pad and hit it back to where it came from (which is the off side). We need to work on that. It is a mental and technical mistake that can be easily rectified. We need to do that pretty quickly. It is a form of dismissal that shouldn't happen with the bloke coming around the wicket."
Siddons, who had a huge role in the batting development of Tamim when he was Bangladesh's head coach from 2007 to 2011, said that the left-hander just wavered from his plan to get his front leg out of the way against incoming deliveries for one ball, to pay the ultimate price.
"I think Tamim was looking for a four to bring up his fifty. He forgot how he was playing the whole innings. He was playing beautifully straight, and not putting his pad across. I think his aggression, taking the fight to the bowlers, was excellent. It relaxed our change-room. I thought he played well for 47. It would be nice if he went on with the game though."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84