Bangladesh’s middle-order failed to handle the pressure again. The elevation of Shakib Al Hasan at number three has created a hole in middle-order and thus, he should come out to bat at number 5.
“I am not yet satisfied. We understand that in order to become a big side we need more quality. There are many options going forward and we want to be tight and do better”.
Khaled Mahmud to media on Wednesday
Khaled Mahmud, the technical director of Bangladesh Cricket Team, was not satisfied enough after the comprehensive victory against Zimbabwe on Tuesday. The 91-run win gifted Bangladesh the aura of invincibility in the ongoing Tri-series, but still, Khaled Mahmud demanded more from the team. He sounded like the coach of a champion side who always expresses his intention to improve more and why not? The Tigers have been unbeaten in five games in a row and obviously, you would wish to push your limits a bit more.
Mr. Mahmud also added, “Yesterday, there was an opportunity for the middle order to prove themselves but it didn’t happen. When the top-order fails, the middle-order takes responsibility in the top sides”.
Indeed, Bangladesh middle-order were not up to the mark against Zimbabwe on Tuesday. They were rusty and put Bangladesh in the soup with poor shot selections. Gallant efforts from lower-order and brilliant bowling saved the day for Bangladesh, but the fragility of middle-order remained a concern.
Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Nasir Hossain and Sabbir Rahman got the opportunity again today, but sadly, the outcome had been the poorest than the previous game.
The game ended before the floodlights were lit as Bangladesh digested a defeat of ten wickets. They were bundled out for 82 in 24 overs. As soon as the Sri Lankans dismissed Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal quickly, the rest of the batting order played irresponsible strokes and showed no intent to stitch partnerships – the Lankans stormed into the final in a commendable fashion.
Chandika Hathurusingha’s men have gunned down the Tigers to gain the much needed psychological boost before final on Saturday.
It was an unimportant match for Bangladesh as they booked the tickets for the finals earlier and for which, they were expected to play without any added pressure. But the lack of pressure must not make a team relaxed enough and script a shambolic performance. International teams which wish to become the best never relax but always come out roaring. Certainly, Bangladesh allowed Sri Lankan to gain the psychological advantage.
Shakib should bat at number 5
From the start of the Tri-series, things always looked rosy as because two of the best players of Bangladesh – Shakib and Tamim – were scoring big with the bat in a consistent fashion. Their conversion rate has been so good, it masked the chinks in the batting order of Bangladesh. Gradually, the real picture came into the scene when the middle-order was put under pressure.
The think tank of Bangladesh cricket decided to play Shakib at number three which in my opinion was not an ideal move. The elevation of your best player at the top automatically hampers the balance of batting order and also, it leaves the middle order without the services of a southpaw.
A left-handed batsman in the middle order has always proved to be a vital factor in many One-day International and Test matches. They not only add a different dimension in the batting order but also disturbs the line and length of the bowlers if he is batting with a right-handed batter. Then, a fielding captain is forced to change field placements in between overs. Again, wicketkeepers find the left side difficult and are prone to be clumsy keeping to left-handers.
Shakib has been batting at number five for a long time and contributed immensely under pressure. No one can forget his historic partnership with Mahmudullah at Cardiff against New Zealand in the ICC Champions Trophy last year, which helped Bangladesh to enter the semi-final of a mega-event for the first time. Then, in 2016, Shakib – who came out to bat at 132 for 3 – along with Imrul Kayes gave England the scare in the first ODI at Mirpur.
In 2008, in the second ODI against South Africa at Mirpur, Bangladesh were reeling at 18 for 4 when Shakib, batting at number 5, stitched a partnership of 119 with Raqibul Hasan for the fifth wicket and saved the Tigers from humiliation.
There had been many instances where Shakib’s ability to handle pressure as a competent number 5 batsman was evident. Moreover, he has scored 3757 runs while batting at number 5 in ODIs.
Given the current situation of Bangladesh middle-order, using Shakib at number three is nothing but a waste. His ability to soak the pressure at number 5 should not be undermined and one must not forget, a bowling all-rounder’s best position is either at number five or six and over the years, Shakib has been brilliant in that particular position.
Bangladesh need to use their best cricketer smartly.