Mahmudullah. File Photo
Bangladesh need to step up and get their mind fully attuned to the Twenty20 format if they want to make progress in the shortest form of the game. Unlike the other two formats, where Bangladesh have established themselves, it is not quite the same in T20Is. Their recent drubbing by Sri Lanka at home in the two-match T20I series had again raised question marks over their ability in the shorter formats.
Bangladesh will need an overall transformation performance-wise if they aim to do well in the upcoming Nidahas Trophy - the tri-nation T20I tournament organised to celebrate the Sri Lanka's 70th year of Independence. With India as the other participating nation, and the hosts carrying forward lots of confidence after their recent success over Bangladesh, Mahmudullah & Co. will need a monumental effort to overturn their fortunes.
Before Bangladesh departed for Colombo, skipper Mahmudullah said that the upcoming tournament is a perfect platform for them to show their true potential. "I think there are question marks over our strength and ability in this format, considering we did not play to our potential in the recent past," Mahmudullah told reporters on Sunday.
"This is a good platform for us to show our true potential and if we can bring out the best from everyone, we are hopeful that we can go a long way [in the series], Our aim is to clinch the trophy. We must make sure [we don't forget] that we have lot of things to prove," he added.
However, the dream of clinching the trophy ahead of the other two formidable opponents could remain unfulfilled until they get hold of the format. Whether while batting or bowling, Bangladesh have still not managed any kind of consistency in the shortest format, largely due to the lack of a perfect plan of action.
During the last one year, Bangladesh have played six T20Is and only three batsmen have managed to score over 100 runs - Soumya Sarkar (205), Mahmudullah (146) and Mushfiqur Rahim (110). Though Tamim Iqbal has played just two matches from those six, it's high time the opener demonstrates the same kind of consistency in the shortest format and comes up with a clear batting plan.
Tamim had been Bangladesh's batting pillar in Tests and ODIs, with his changed batting philosophy suggesting that he is more inclined towards taking his time to settle in and later making up for it with his wide range of shots.
However, when it comes to T20s, he seems to deviate from the process that has turned out to be so successful for him and instead loses his wicket prematurely while trying to score runs at a quicker pace. Bangladesh will have a better chance if Tamim can just stick around, allowing Soumya to bat even longer, given his ability to play different kinds of shots rather than losing his way after a brisk start, as has been the case more often than not.
Number three has also been a long-standing problem for Bangladesh and it's nothing more than sheer bad luck to lose the experienced Shakib Al Hasan, who was settling in nicely after having tried several options in the slot.
Mushfiqur Rahim has been one of the most technically accomplished batsmen for Bangladesh but even he has been guilty of trying too many things too soon after being restricted by the opposition bowling camp.
As a bowling unit, Bangladesh are still looking for someone apart from Mustafizur Rahman who can keep the opposition batsmen guessing. Though, even the right-handed pacer seems to lose his line and length after being picked by the opponent. Mustafizur picked four wickets in four matches from the six he played in, at an economy rate of 8.92. The absence of Shakib, their most successful bowler during the last one year, will be hard to fill but Bangladesh need bowlers to come up with some varieties. The absence of another quality spinner and a genuine swing bowler is also an aspect Bangladesh desperately need to address.
According to Mahmudullah, a lot depends on how Bangladesh begin their campaign against India, who on paper look depleted after having opted to rest some of their major stars. "The first game is very important. If we can win the opening game we will pick the momentum early and it will be a driving factor as we progress in the tournament," he said.