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Tamim aces ODI test but Bangladesh face leadership questions in other formats

Bangladesh have a different captain for each format and only one of them had a successful tour of the West Indies

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Tamim Iqbal swats one away over the leg side, West Indies vs Bangladesh, 2nd ODI, Guyana, July 13, 2022

Tamim Iqbal led Bangladesh to a 3-0 win in the ODI series against West Indies  •  AFP via Getty Images

For a Bangladesh captain, being compared to Mashrafe Mortaza is high praise indeed, and with a fifth consecutive ODI series win at the helm, Tamim Iqbal is entering Mashrafe territory. Mashrafe was the last captain to lead Bangladesh through such a streak, winning six series in a row between 2014 and 2016. The two are close friends but extremely different individuals. While Mashrafe is a cult hero who gave expression to his passion to inspire his players, Tamim is a quiet tactician who seizes even the smallest advantage.
Under Tamim's leadership, Bangladesh were able to turn around a disappointing tour of the Caribbean. They did not win a game during the Test and T20I series - making mistakes in every discipline - but bounced back to sweep the ODIs 3-0. The victory also ended a winless run from March to June, after they had done so well on preceding tours to New Zealand and South Africa.
Tamim's performance as ODI captain is noteworthy considering Bangladesh's uncertainty under different leaders in the other two formats. Shakib Al Hasan took over the Test captaincy shortly before this tour of West Indies following Mominul Haque's resignation after the series defeat to Sri Lanka. Shakib, however, has been a reluctant Test cricketer, having played only seven of 15 Tests since his return from suspension in January 2021. While the BCB had the right idea when making Shakib the Test captain, the board knows he will want to skip tours every now and then.
The T20I problem is more severe. Under Mahmudullah's leadership, Bangladesh have won just one of their previous 13 matches, and there is little optimism around their prospects in the shortest format.
So here's a deeper look at Bangladesh's recent performance under their different leaders in each format.
The perfect ODI handover
The BCB appointed Tamim the ODI captain ahead of a couple of other contenders in March 2020, but it was only in January 2021 that he led the team for the first time in his latest stint at the helm.
Tamim's pedigree as a batter was excellent: he had been the rock at the top for more than a decade and had become the first Bangladesh batter to score 7000 ODI runs. He was one of Mashrafe's closest deputies and had also benefitted from Mashrafe's leadership during a difficult period in 2015.
Tamim also plays an important role off the field, particularly on overseas tours, where he takes younger team-mates under his wing. It was not uncommon to see them spend time with him when they were in unfamiliar cities. Tamim has enjoyed this role for a while now, even more so after he lost the vice-captaincy in 2011 and was overlooked for the captaincy in 2014.
So when his tenure as ODI captain began in January 2021, Tamim had plenty of experience to draw from as Bangladesh began their Super League campaign. He began with a 3-0 win against West Indies at home, but lost his second series 3-0 in New Zealand.
Ahead of Bangladesh's next series against Sri Lanka, Tamim backed Mushfiqur Rahim despite the veteran wicketkeeper having dropped straightforward chances at crucial moments in New Zealand. With the support of his captain, Mushfiqur has had a good run behind the stumps since then, with 16 dismissals and only one dropped catch in his next nine games.
Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka 2-1 in that home series, and then won 3-0 in Zimbabwe. Tamim played that series with an injury, to ensure that Bangladesh bagged crucial Super League points that would aid their direct qualification for the 2023 ODI World Cup.
The crowning moment of Tamim's captaincy came when Bangladesh won an ODI series 2-1 in South Africa this March. He was the top-scorer in their maiden triumph in that country.
While the win in South Africa was a milestone result, the ODI series win in West Indies will be remembered for Tamim's man-management skills and conviction as a leader. He attacked with all his bowlers, with a slip in place almost all the time even when West Indies tried to go on the charge.
Mahmudullah's false dawn
While Bangladesh's 50-overs fortunes improved under Tamim, their T20I prospects also brightened under Mahmudullah, with series wins against Australia and New Zealand in August-September 2021. But those wins were in spin-friendly home conditions, and after that Bangladesh suffered a winless campaign in the Super 12 round of the 2021 T20 World Cup. Since then they have won just one of their next eight games against Pakistan, Afghanistan and West Indies.
Mahmudullah's own form during this period has been poor: he's scored 103 runs in eight innings at a strike rate of 102.
Bangladesh have lacked the power-hitters other teams possess, and they have also suffered from instability at the top. They have had 10 different opening combinations in 29 T20Is since July 2021, leading to confusion and a lack of confidence among the team's key batters. The rigidity of using only left-arm spinners against right-hand batters and offspinners against left-hand batters, often with poor results, is fast becoming a Mahmudullah trademark too.
What can Shakib do with the Test side?
It's early days yet in Shakib's latest stint as Bangladesh's Test captain, and his tenure began with the 2-0 defeat in the West Indies. Shakib, like Tamim, wants to take wickets as a fielding captain and he tried to be positive in the Caribbean. He also batted aggressively when the Bangladesh line-up collapsed on his first day back at the helm.
The bigger question is the road ahead for Shakib the Test captain. It was a surprise when he was appointed last month, because while the BCB might have been keen to make Shakib captain, the allrounder has been reluctant to play all of Bangladesh's Test series in the recent past. The question is whether his new responsibility will result in Shakib prioritising red-ball cricket over the white-ball formats.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84