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McKenzie's focus: Bangladesh's execution under pressure

The batting coach believes consistency in selection has helped bring out the best in the younger players

Mosaddek Hossain points his bat to the Bangladesh dressing room, West Indies v Bangladesh, tri-nation series final, Malahide, May 17, 2019

AFP / Getty Images

Neil McKenzie, Bangladesh's South African batting coach, wants his batsmen to trust their games in defining moments. Bangladesh started well against South Africa, but have somewhat fallen apart against New Zealand and England. The Bangladesh batsmen, on their part, believe McKenzie has made a difference in his time with the side. His belief that the Bangladesh batsmen are capable of making big scores, many say, is slowly beginning to seep through the ranks.
"The trust is there," McKenzie told ESPNcricinfo ahead of the England game, where they responded with 280 to fall 106 short. "I think it is for them to trust themselves and the game plans. From the batting side of things, it is about trusting the person who is doing the job. I think with trust, you can let them play their game. I like to see it with the lesser-experienced players who have all been proper match winners."
"They have made good contributions in the last seven-eight months. [Mohammad] Mithun had two fifties in really trying conditions in New Zealand. We know what Soumya [Sarkar] can do. Mushfiqur [Rahim] and Shakib [Al Hasan] played really well. I think the guys can judge themselves on game plan. Committing to how they are going to play.
"They need to have a backup plan, if plan A doesn't work, then they need proper thinking. Bangladeshi batsmen have some great hand-speed. They hit the ball consistently well in skilled areas. We just have to trust their process."
McKenzie believes coaches and selectors have been consistent in picking players over the last 12 months precisely to empower them in tough situations. He cited the example of Liton Das, who was given ample opportunities and finally came good under pressure in the Asia Cup final, when he struck 121. Another example is Mosaddek Hossain, who has only managed to break open the selection door following an impressive 27-ball 52 not out in a rain-shortened tri-series final against West Indies in Malahide last month.
"I think selection has been a lot more consistent," he said. "We have to nurture our young players, and when they get the chance, they know they will get a proper run. It is not just one game in, one game out. I think it is through the whole system has been really good. Liton was in and out, up and down in the Asia Cup. We backed him. He got a good forty. He failed again and then he got an unbelievable hundred in the final.
"The selectors are showing the guys that we back them. We trust and believe them. We are not giving them a chance because the journalists are saying that's the guy who should be making it. The coaches and captain believe in these guys. It is batting for your country as a young player is really hard so you definitely need the backing from everybody."
"Saikat has fantastic hands through the ball, he said of Mosaddek. "It is just about getting that consistency, wanting to be there when the pressure is on, and wanting to be there for Bangladesh when its needed. I am very pleased with him, I think he has worked really hard. I think his game plans are a little bit sound, and he comes with a bit of maturity and chance."
McKenzie also said he doesn't mind batsmen getting out, if they are out to shots that was part of the strategy at a given time. He felt backing them in such situations was the best way to induce self-belief.
"The guys are getting closer to knowing their games, which is really good for Bangladesh cricket," he said. We will hopefully pose a few more 300s, when the wicket demands it. We have some proper players who are missing out in the squad and at home. It says that the batsmen you have on tour are world-class."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84