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Shakib aside, there's very little right about Bangladesh's T20I side

There's a new hierarchy among the quicks, the expectations from the team are low, and the think tank appears out of ideas

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Taskin Ahmed is the best Bangladesh have in terms of quick bowling  •  AFP/Getty Images

Taskin Ahmed is the best Bangladesh have in terms of quick bowling  •  AFP/Getty Images

Bangladesh's long build-up to the men's T20 World Cup ended with four consecutive losses in the tri-series in New Zealand. We look at five factors from the last few months that may have an impact during the marquee event in Australia.
Taskin the leader of the pack
Having recovered from a back injury, Taskin Ahmed returned to form during Bangladesh's disappointing Asia Cup campaign in the UAE, and bowled with fire in the tri-series.
Taskin did not finish with great numbers - just two wickets at an economy rate of 7.58 in three games - but he is quite clearly the leader of the attack along with Hasan Mahmud, who has been impressive despite injury problems this year. Mahmud finished as Bangladesh's leading wicket-taker in the tri-series - four wickets in three games with an economy of 7.91.
Strange as it sounds, Mustafizur Rahman might not be in Bangladesh's first-choice XI at the World Cup. After an excellent 2021, Mustafizur has had a mediocre year so far, with eight wickets in 12 games. Following a wicketless first game in New Zealand, he was benched for the rest of the tri-series.
With time still left to make tweaks to the World Cup XI, it's not inconceivable that Bangladesh might bring in Shoriful Islam, with either Mustafizur or Ebadot Hossain going out, even though Mohammad Saifuddin's all-round abilities appear to be on the wane.
Shakib holds the middle-order key
Shakib Al Hasan struck two fifties in the tri-series, attacking innings that threatened both New Zealand and Pakistan. But, not for the first time, he lacked support.
Shakib is likely to bat at No. 4 in the World Cup, giving him enough time to build his innings, attack or consolidate as the situation demands - and he can do both. He must be the bridge between a misfiring top order and a capable but off-colour middle order. Afif Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain, Nurul Hasan and Yasir Ali will have to support Shakib, something they largely failed to do in New Zealand. Afif has been in form leading up to this stage, while Mosaddek showed his abilities at the Asia Cup, but it all needs to work in tandem.
Death-overs trouble
Bangladesh are an ordinary T20 team, and their death-overs batting has been super-ordinary. This year, they have the lowest run rate [minimum 15 innings] in the last five overs, and it doesn't improve even in the last three overs, with the designated finishers Nurul and Yasir failing more often than not.
As such, Shakib, Yasir and Nurul all have strike rates of over 160 in the last five overs, but there's a severe dearth of boundary-hitting ability there, particularly when they walk out in the death overs. Bangladesh have hit a total of 15 sixes in the last three overs in T20Is this year, compared to India's 51 or even Zimbabwe's 25.
The opening conundrum
Bangladesh have used 12 different opening combinations in 19 T20Is since the last World Cup, including four in as many games in the tri-series. They have all struggled, and the team management appears to have run out of ideas.
That Bangladesh have gone back to Soumya Sarkar - who looked like he was out of the picture after the 2021 T20 World Cup - gives an idea of the confusion. In the interim period, Sarkar had scored 164 runs at a strike rate of 109.33 in the BPL, but it's clear that the selectors are desperate now.
Litton Das has been the best opener during this difficult time, while Mehidy Hasan Miraz has stepped up too. What will their opening combination be for the T20 World Cup?
Preparations good, expectations nil
Bangladesh beat Australia and New Zealand 4-1 and 3-2 respectively before last year's T20 World Cup. But both those opponents had left out first-choice players for the tours, when games were played on awful pitches in Mirpur. Australia and New Zealand went on to contest the final in Dubai; Bangladesh lost all their Super 12s matches.
This time, Bangladesh took a slightly better approach, playing the tri-series in New Zealand instead of at home, and against top sides with their best players in the mix. The results have been poor, but they might be better prepared compared to the last T20 World Cup.
There, however, is very little expectation from this side. Bangladesh have won just four T20Is this year: two against UAE, and one each against Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84