Mahmudullah seeks revival of self-belief to end Bangladesh's T20 rut


8 March, 2018 10:47 AM

Mahmudullah seeks revival of self-belief to end Bangladesh's T20 rut

Photo: AFP

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As much as winning is a habit, losing too is, and unfortunately for Bangladesh, they have been caught in a convolution that has resulted in nine losses from 10 games. After a promising start in the triangular series at home, Bangladesh lost to Sri Lanka in the final. Subsequently, Sri Lanka's momentum spilled into the two-match Test and T20I series too, during which the hosts were subjected to further embarrassment. A change in venue offers them a fresh canvas, and also relieves them off the direct pressures of playing in front of enthusiastic fans from back home.

While Bangladesh have gotten familiar with the Sri Lankan challenge, having played against them over the past two months, it's been a while since they have taken on India in a T20I - the last dating back to the dramatic loss in the 2016 World T20. Skipper Mahmudullah though was quick to retort and brush aside any memories of that game in Bengaluru. "That game ended in Bangalore on that evening itself. We can't fret on it forever. One needs to learn the lessons from it and move on quickly, you can't sit on it for an eternity," the Bangladesh captain said on Wednesday (March 7).

Bangladesh are aware of the new-look Indian outfit but are in no mood to let complacency slip into their game. The captain believes that even without their star players, India remains a very experienced side thanks to the massive IPL exposure they get. The 32-year-old, who is standing in as skipper in place of Shakib Al Hasan, has never been shy of admitting to his team's dwindling show in T20 cricket as well. "India is still a strong side, even though some their experienced players aren't around on this tour. Their current squad has a lot of players who have the experience of playing in the IPL," he added.

"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 had said before flying out from Dhaka.

A majority of Bangladesh's woes stem out of its No. 3 batting position with a lot of players trying and failing. In such a case with Shakib unavailable, the tourists will look to do some deep searching to plug that gap. Not so long ago, Sabbir Rahman had started to score from that number but soon his form deserted him, leading to him being dropped from the side. The team management identifies that and is taking desperate measures to make the most of that void. In one of the last two T20Is against Sri Lanka, Mushfiqur Rahim, who was tried at that spot, scored a superlative 44-ball 66 and Bangladesh will hope that the senior pro delivers the results in this series too. However, there could be other contenders too, but few who can match the wicketkeeper-batsman's experience.

"The No. 3 batting position has been playing on our minds for some time now. Sabbir Rahman had been doing well at that position, however in the past few games, the runs haven't really come but that is understandable, there'd be such phases for everyone. We back him to do well always.Tomorrow, you will see who we will play at No. 3 because even Liton [Das] batted well in the practice game."

It's not been long since Chandika Hathurusingha has exited the scene and joined up with Sri Lanka. It wasn't the prettiest breakup, hence making room for a lot of murmurs. But as hard as Bangladesh tried to get over it, their losses to Sri Lanka at home didn't let them do so. Even as the Nidahas Trophy campaign begins for Bangladesh on Thursday - roughly three months after the former coach's resignation - Mahmudullah wasn't spared of questions about the coaching unit.

"There's nothing new about the coaching staff. It is more or less the same people we have worked with, just the head coach is new with Courtney Walsh stepping in. Khaled Mahmud is here with us, Simon [Helmot] could be new but... We have to now extract the best knowledge and execute it well. Just like a batsman can go through a lean patch, a team can go through the same too. In the past two and a half years, we have done well and I don't think we should change that style much.

"We have lost a T20 series, a tri-nation series but that shouldn't force us to change everything. In fact, we had started the tri-series well but in the crunch situations later on, we lost our confidence somewhere. If we can revive that self belief, we will do well."

There's little turnaround time that this short tournament will allow and an early slip-up might just extend their streak. Bangladesh have a point to prove - to better their T20 record, to do well even without Hathurusingha at the helm.