“To be honest, even if we lose 3-0 against Zimbabwe, I won’t be upset at all. Because I don’t want to put them under any sort of pressure. I want them to play with freedom.”
Bangladesh team director Khaled Mahmud had this to say when asked about his expectations from the new look Bangladesh T20 team before the Zimbabwe tour began.
The former Bangladesh skipper, no doubt, said this to encourage the players to play with a free mind and showcase a more aggressive brand of cricket, something the Tigers have been yearning for in the shortest format for far too long.
But as the dust settles over the three-match T20I series between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the Tigers find themselves empty handed.
The result didn’t end up in their favour, as they suffered their first ever series defeat in the format against Zimbabwe. Both teams had earlier faced off in six T20I series, of which Bangladesh had won three and the remaining three had ended in draws.
The series outcome will remain as a blemish in Bangladesh’s record. But it won’t have any further bearing on anything else. What should hurt the Tigers more is the timid and outdated approach with which they played in the series.
Other than Liton Das, no one in the top-order played an innings of authority. The batters also struggled to keep the tempo up in the middle overs. The series once again showed why Bangladesh has only won eight matches in their T20I history when chasing a target excess of 150, with them falling short of similar chases twice in the series.
The bowling department showed multiple chinks, with three pacers conceding 137 runs collectively in the first T20I and Nasum Ahmed conceding a record 34 runs in a single over, the most for a Bangladeshi bowler in T20Is, in the series-deciding third match.
Mosaddek Hossain’s five-wicket haul in the second match set up Bangladesh’s only win in the series. But the all-rounder’s fifer, if not a fluke, was definitely fortuitous. This was the part-time spinner’s first ever five-wicket haul not only in international cricket but in all forms of competitive cricket.
The team management and selectors are also not helping the team’s cause, sending mixed messages with their selections.
The selectors first chose to rest captain Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim from the T20I series, to try out new players.
They also named Nurul Hasan as the new skipper. But he was handed the captaincy temporarily in Mahmudullah’s absence and was only set to lead the team for the Zimbabwe series.
Nurul’s run as temporary skipper ended abruptly after he injured his index finger in the second T20I. With the series in the balance, the selectors and management seemingly forgot their earlier stance of wanting to try on new players as they drafted Mahmudullah for the T20Is in place of the wicketkeeper-batsman.
To further complicate the matters, Mahmudullah, who is still the full-time T20I captain of Bangladesh on paper, wasn’t brought in to lead the side. Instead, the management named Mosaddek Hossain as the stand-in captain for the series.
Handing Mosaddek the captaincy, who is a fringe player at best, while Liton Das, the vice-captain of the Test team, in the team was also a surprising decision that too many did not see coming.
Recalling Mahmudullah was seemingly a knee-jerk reaction of the selectors to strengthen the batting line-up with an experienced player with the series in the balance. But the ploy did not pay off as the 36-year-old made a run-a-ball 27 which didn’t help the team’s cause.
After the disappointment in T20Is, Bangladesh will return to its favourite format as they will next play a three-match One-Day Internationals (ODI) series against the same opponent.
However, Bangladesh won’t be able to forget their T20 woes for too long, with Asia Cup mere weeks away.
Bangladesh will have to play against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in the group stage, both formidable and more importantly in form T20 outfits. Both of those teams lag behind in some aspects but approach T20 with an aggressive mindset. Bangladesh, on the other hand, remain a team without clarity in T20s.
The Zimbabwe series was supposed to be the dawn of a new Bangladesh T20 team, but it just ended up bringing Bangladesh back to square one.