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Batting collapses 'alarming', says Mushfiqur

Mushfiqur Rahim accepted responsibility for his role in Bangladesh's innings-and-248-run defeat to Sri Lanka, saying the missed chances and bad batting were the major reasons for the loss

Bangladesh's recovery from their fourth biggest Test defeat has to start from the top. Mushfiqur Rahim and his new deputy Tamim Iqbal have no more than four days to do so, but they have a few boxes in their checklist to tick.
The Bangladesh captain has to clear his mind of the four dropped catches, a stumping and a poor shot in the second innings. He has accepted his mistakes and holds himself responsible for losing the game and, although he is not the sole player to be blamed, this is a good place to start.
"I don't remember the last time when this [four dropped catches] happened," Mushfiqur said. "Maybe this is the first time. I was feeling very bad. When a batsman scores after I have dropped him, it feels as though I have lost the game for the team. This thought probably resulted in the next two or three drops.
"This is part of the game. It is hard to motivate players if I don't lead from the front. I will try to turn it around in the next three days. I have done better things in the past, so I will try to remember them."
Being a player obsessed with improving his game, Mushfiqur can be expected to bounce back strongly. That would mean more catching practice with Nasir Ahmed, the video analyst and former Bangladesh wicketkeeper. His batting probably doesn't require much attention, evident from his first-innings fifty. But his tendency to go with the flow was evident in the second innings when he stepped out and tried to drive Dilruwan Perera against the spin.
The way the Bangladesh batsmen handled deliveries of shorter length was also in the spotlight. There were times when Angelo Mathews employed six fielders on the leg side for Shakib Al Hasan, which didn't stop the left-hander from pulling the ball. In the course of the two innings, Tamim Iqbal, Shamsur Rahman, Marshall Ayub, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain and Sohag Gazi got out to deliveries that either pitched short or those that pitched on a close length but had disconcerting bounce.
In the case of Nasir and Shamsur, balls leapt off a good length but Tamim was caught at fine-leg hooking a head-high delivery while Marshall Ayub could not control a delivery that was bumped into his chest. Mominul was soft at the pull shot while Gazi didn't have much choice but to plank it back at mid-on.
Mushfiqur called the two batting collapses "alarming" and stressed he wanted an end to such an inexplicable approach.
"We expect to face such deliveries at this level. We should keep this in mind next time we take the field," he said. "There was lack of application. If we had been a lot more patient, they would have stopped bowling like that. It is not as if one can't play a pull shot when six fielders are out, but one must play it within his limit, which he can control.
"We have played well against good sides with this batting in the last year and a half, so there should have been a limit to a collapse. This sort of batting in two consecutive innings is alarming. Bowlers will always try to go after you, but as batsmen we have to understand and try to play according to the situation. Batting is our main strength, so we must improve quickly."
He also pointed out that Tamim could have thought more sensibly on the third evening before trying to swipe at Rangana Herath and looping a catch at point. The left-hander made 6 and 11, and was worked out by the Sri Lankan pace bowlers in the first innings before throwing it away in the second.
"Everyone is going to play their natural game. I think we should understand the situation. We should have survived yesterday," Mushfiqur said. "It is not as if he [Tamim Iqbal] didn't know. Mahela has also played over the top, but we should have thought about the situation.
"Eight overs were remaining, if we were a little more circumspect, then we could have started the day with ten wickets in hand. If he thinks deeply, he can change these things. He is one of our best batsmen. If he stays at the crease, the next batsmen will have a lot of confidence."
Mushfiqur was not so critical of the bowling, however. Bangladesh conceded the most runs in an innings in their Test history, but he said it was good enough for them to create chances on such a pitch.
"What does it mean to create chances on a wicket where wickets are hard to get? So there's nothing to be afraid about. We should bring back the batting that we did in the last 18 months," he said.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here