Bangladesh batters must practice as modern T20 demands: Mashrafe

Mashrafe bin Mortaza

Former Bangladesh captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza believes the local cricketers must practice according to the need of modern T20 games to improve their skill and effectiveness in the game.

Mashrafe, the most successful captain in Bangladesh history, was close to win his fifth Bangladesh Premier League title as captain but failed marginally as his side Sylhet Strikers lost to Comilla Victorians in the final of the ninth edition of the tournament by three wickets on Thursday at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.

Mashrafe played an instrumental role to form the new franchise of Sylhet, who showed impressive performance throughout the tournament to finish as the top side in the group stage, and the team was built basically with some quality local players but their foreign recruitment was rather weak.

Mashrafe admitted his side was formed with a limited budget and they tried to harness the power of local talents. In the end they were very close to clinch the ultimate success but failed to a much well-equipped Comilla side bestowed with some big foreign names.

In the final, two of Sylhet’s local batters Najmul Hossain and Mushfiqur Rahim scored half centuries to post 175-7 but in the end, it proved inadequate as Comilla chased it down with four balls to spare.

Comilla’s West Indian batter Johnson Charles made the chase easy as he remained not out with 79 with a strike rate of 152 despite starting slowly. Moeen Ali also scored 25 not out with a strike rate of 147 and the pair made sure an equation of 52 off last 24 balls with adequate wickets in hand is an easy one in modern day T20s.

Mushfiq, who scored, 74 ended with an impressive strike rate of 154 while Najmul scored 64 with a strike rate of 142, which was lot higher than his average strike rate (116.74) throughout the tournament.

Najmul was adjudged man of the series for scoring most number of runs in the tournament but in the final the difference of strike rate saw him ending in the losing side.

Sylhet’s foreign recruit could amass only 22 while Comilla’s foreign duo along with a 55 off 39 from Liton Das proved decisive in the final but as a whole it proved when it is the matter of T20, Bangladesh players struggle to match the top batters in the format in terms of run rate.

This tournament, where many top batters of the world were absent due to their commitments in other leagues, saw Bangladeshi batters dominate the chart as highest run getters but failed to appear in the list of batters with top strike rates.

In T20, unlike ODIs, strike rate is the pivotal and despite an encouraging BPL where local talents like Najmul, Towhid Hridoy, Rony Talukder shone with bat the question remained about the future.

Shakib al Hasan enjoyed one of his best spells with bat as he scored 375 with a fantastic strike rate of 175 but he is the only local player with top strike rate among the batters who have scored at least 200 runs in total.

Shakib, like many instances in Bangladesh cricket, proved himself as exception and most of his younger compatriots failed to keep a modern standard strike rate.

Towhid, who scored a duck in the final, scored with a strike rate of 140 and amassed 403 runs while Rony Talukder, the 32-year old opener, caught attention with 425 runs but his strike rate was shade under 130.

Liton Das, arguably the most stylish stroke maker in the country scored with a strike rate under 130 while Mushfiq registered a rate of over 132.

On the other hand, foreign players like Karim Janat, Khushdil Shah, Azam Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed all scored with strike rate of over 150 to prove their utility and effectiveness in the game.

“Our players need to model their build up according to the need. They must practice different kinds of shots, manufacture and improvisation to improve their strike rate. Well built players like Charles and Andre Russell have the firepower but when you lack that you may suffice with practice and technique,” said Mashrafe at the press conference after the final.

T20 is a fast pace game unlike the traditional formats of the game and the risk is while trying something different so it is important to back the players who try different things.

Mashrafe, who is known for his captaincy prowess and allow the players to play with positive frame of mind, said they gave free license to young players.

“We gave license to young players like Towhid. It is very important to their growth,’ said Sylhet skipper.

Talking about giving chances and proper atmosphere of growth Mashrafe was a bit surprised when he came to know Towhid got a call up for ODI squad for Bangladesh in their forthcoming series against England.

‘Giving chances to young players is good but you have to keep in mind they may fail one or two times on the big stage and it is vital to back them. If you drop them for their failure, it will be harmful for their growth and career.’

Mashrafe also mentioned about Najmul and Liton who faced much criticism for their slow start in the international arena despite showing early promises. But the team management kept faith in them and gradually they cemented their place in the national fold.