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Match Analysis

Bangladesh offer bleak look into future without Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim

A string of bad overs with the ball coupled with a batting collapse saw them fall to another heavy defeat

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
28-Mar-2021
Bangladesh collapsed in their chase of 211, losing five wickets for 20 runs in the space of 22 balls  •  Getty Images

Bangladesh collapsed in their chase of 211, losing five wickets for 20 runs in the space of 22 balls  •  Getty Images

If Bangladesh gave a glimpse into their international future on Sunday, it is probably best that the fans look away. In their first match without Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan in more than 14 years, they crashed to a big defeat against a New Zealand side brimming with confidence.
Two of those absentees - Shakib and Iqbal - were out of Bangladesh's plans well in advance. Shakib didn't come on this tour while Iqbal was only available for the ODIs. Rahim pulled out due to multiple injuries to his left shoulder and finger, sustained in the third ODI a couple of days ago. Ultimately, it was left to the captain Mahmudullah to rally the young team around him.
In the case of these three players, it is not just the number of years or matches that they have played that Bangladesh missed. Bangladesh have mid-ranged experienced cricketers in Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das and Mustafizur Rahman, but their impact on the field dwarfs in comparison to the big three. Despite playing for at least the last six years, they have not stepped up to take more central or senior roles in the team, a factor that came to the fore during this match.
The lack of experience in the field meant that Bangladesh were handed a pretty harsh reality check. Their black hole in T20I planning - a string of bad overs with the ball and a batting collapse - came back to haunt them. New Zealand scored 101 runs in the last seven overs, with none of the overs going for less than 10 runs. Bangladesh simply did not know how to contain the big-hitters, and kept adding to their own misery by bowling three or four boundary balls every over during this period.
They didn't help their cause with the bat either. When Mohammad Naim fell to Lockie Ferguson after a quickfire 27, Bangladesh went into freefall, as is often the case whenever they lose momentum. On Sunday, they lost five wickets for 20 runs in the space of 22 balls; Ish Sodhi took four of those in his first 11 balls.
Letting a team dominate for more than five overs in a T20 is akin to giving up the game altogether, and Bangladesh paid the price. Their continued inability to handle high-class legspin and big-hitting was badly exposed. Sodhi recently had a Player-of-the-Series performance in the T20Is against Australia, but more than his confidence, it was his simple plan to bowl subtle variations at the stumps which foxed the Bangladesh batsmen.
Sodhi had Sarkar caught and bowled, while bowling out Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah and Mahedi Hasan. The lack of legspin in Bangladesh's cricketing dictionary means that they are always caught off guard while facing the ever-changing nuances in the art.
Bangladesh's bowling suffered a similar gap in their understanding of big-hitting, as they hardly face such things in domestic T20 competitions. On good pitches that has even bounce and shorter boundaries, the bowling often comes unstuck against big hitters.
The only area where Bangladesh looked to have made a slight improvement was in their intensity while fielding, but that too didn't last the whole 20 overs. There was the odd diving over the ball or not running in hard for a catch.
Sometimes, young teams tend to lift themselves on fast fielding or great catches. Had Bangladesh somehow pulled off a win today, bowling well in the last seven overs and finding a way to tackle Sodhi, they could have made a real statement of intent. As it stands though, they now have to find a way to pick up the pieces without their three best players to help them.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84