'No point of playing Test cricket like this' - Mahmudullah

After Bangladesh folded for less than 200 for the eighth successive time in Test cricket, their stand-in captain said it was time they changed their batting approach

Imrul Kayes was bowled around his legs  •  Getty Images

Imrul Kayes was bowled around his legs  •  Getty Images

Bangladesh care about Test cricket but at the rate they are going this year, they might as well shut up shop - this was their stand-in captain Mahmudullah's blunt assessment after their 151-run defeat to Zimbabwe in Sylhet. It was a notable change of tack from someone who had fervently defended the team after a similar meltdown last February, but it is a worrying message from the top of Bangladesh cricket.
"We do care about Test cricket," Mahmudullah said. "Our bowlers have done well. But the batsmen aren't doing the job. We are in good rhythm in ODIs but the same can't be said about Tests. We haven't scored runs in last five or six innings. This is a matter of great concern for us. If we continue to bat like this, I don't think we will be in a good situation. We must fight back properly, otherwise [there's] no point of playing Test cricket like this."
For the eighth Test innings in succession, Bangladesh were bowled out for a sub-200 total. Their 169 in the second innings against Zimbabwe was, in fact, their biggest total since February.
Mahmudullah said the batting had lacked discipline, even on a flat pitch where only the odd ball turned more than expected. He explained that the team's proclivity towards shot-making had become a major concern.
"I think we play too many shots," he said. "We may also be doing it out of an emotional reaction. But we must restrict this, be choosier. We have to see how we are playing certain bowlers.
"Crucially, we are not creating small partnerships. From top to bottom all of us failed. Only if we can make up these things, you can see a different Bangladesh."
There also seemed to be some confusion about Mushfiqur Rahim's exact batting position. He batted at No 6 in both innings but since the West Indies tour, it has seemed that, given his form, he could be better off batting at No 4.
"I think there has to be discussions with the team management and Mushfiq about where he wants to bat," Mahmudullah said. "Team management takes the call for batting positions. Mushfiq at No 6 means we have more depth in our batting. He has big innings at No 5 and 6.
"Today I suddenly decided to bat at No 4. It was mainly because Sikandar Raza was bowling at two left-handers."
Mahmudullah's form is a worry too. He has only scored 58 runs in his last eight Test innings, and the manner and timing of his dismissal today, trying to play a full-blooded sweep 20 minutes before lunch, was an indication that he hasn't yet gotten over his 2016-17 batting dip in Tests.
But Mahmudullah is the only one of many problems in the Bangladesh batting line-up. And it isn't a one-off match they must worry about. They need to overturn a trend that has gone back for at least the last 14 months.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84