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Tamim Iqbal: 'If we continue to play like this, we are going nowhere'

Bangladesh captain deeply disappointed with team's poor performance in New Zealand

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
'If you take out the second game, we never looked to be competing with them, which is very disappointing' - Tamim Iqbal  •  Getty Images

'If you take out the second game, we never looked to be competing with them, which is very disappointing' - Tamim Iqbal  •  Getty Images

After taking a step forward with the bat in Christchurch, Bangladesh took quite a few steps back in Wellington, resulting in the 164-run defeat in the third ODI. The visitors were bowled out for 154 in 42.4 overs but they had abandoned the 319-run chase as early as the eighth over.
In a damaging phase of play, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Mithun added just 22 runs in the eleven overs that followed Bangladesh's third wicket in the seventh over. By the time both batsmen departed the crease, the required run-rate had ballooned to ten per over, essentially killing the game. Mahmudullah's unbeaten 76 salvaged some respectability to the visitors' score but not their overall performance.
They had started well with Taskin Ahmed's accurate opening spell of seven overs, and Rubel Hossain, playing for the first time in the series, taking two wickets. But in between, Rahim and Mustafizur Rahman dropped sitters and even though they didn't count for much as both Henry Nicholls and Ross Taylor fell in the same over, it was clear that Bangladesh couldn't get their basics right again.
Their catching and ground fielding had been poor in both Christchurch and Wellington and while their batsmen recovered in the second game, they were back to old habits in the third one. The bowlers impressed in parts, but captain Tamim Iqbal still had to rely on Soumya Sarkar's eight overs.
If Bangladesh are to make something of this 3-0 defeat, the process started at the press conference. Iqbal was blunt in his assessment, warning the team to take stock of their situation in order to perform better in the near future.
"I thought the first and the last game, we were nowhere close to them (New Zealand)," Tamim said. "I thought they played exceptionally well. We are a much better team but if we continue to play like this, we are going nowhere. We understand that it is a different condition than back home, but we have to improve a lot to compete with them.
"If you take out the second game, we never looked to be competing with them, which is very disappointing. I said before the series that I had high hopes. I thought we definitely had a chance. We did get a chance in the second game but overall, it was a disappointing series for us. We didn't play well."
When asked whether the Bangladesh players showed heart in the middle, Iqbal said that it shouldn't even be a question when they are playing for the country. "When you are representing your country, wearing the badge and the flag colour, I think this question shouldn't come up. I think everyone wants to do well, but there's a process to do that."
Iqbal, whose patient 78 set the stage for a total of 271 in Christchurch, said that the team should have followed the same plan in Wellington to ride out the new ball with minimum damage. He believed it would have helped Bangladesh take New Zealand deeper into the game, thus giving them a chance.
"We had way too many soft dismissals today. You know the new ball will do something in New Zealand. You just have to hang in tight. The perfect example was the last game.
"We only scored 25 or 26 in the first ten overs but we cashed in, in the next 20 overs. Surfaces in New Zealand can be difficult to bat at the start but it gets better as the game progresses. We didn't allow ourselves the chance to bat deep," he said.
Iqbal said that it is up to the players to improve their overseas performances, and not just rely on the coaches. Bangladesh have a tricky period coming up in the next three years with two T20 World Cups, as well as trying to automatically qualify for the 50-over World Cup in 2023.
Iqbal said that they have to take every match seriously regardless of whether it is in difficult conditions or a dead rubber, as every ODI now counts in the Super League format for qualification.
"You can have the best coaches in the world, but the players need to understand what to do and what not to do. We are not consistent in overseas conditions as a team and as individual players. We have to find a way to fix it.
"I personally didn't come to New Zealand for improvement. We came to win games. This is no longer just a bilateral series. This is a points-based system. You win, you get points and makes your life easier for qualification," Iqbal said.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84