Bangladesh bolder, but falter through errors

Sabbir Rahman scored 44 but struggled to find partners to pursue India’s 166 © AFP/Getty Images

Bangladesh made enough mistakes to lose the Asia Cup opener to India by 45 runs and they will have to duly improve in those areas quickly. But their general approach was fresh towards the format and opponent.

The home side, perhaps influenced by India’s recent troubles on a similar pitch in Pune against Sri Lanka, went for a green top though it was mainly cut grass that the groudsmen sprinkled generously on the surface. But while seam movement wasn’t exaggerated, it was enough to encourage the pace bowlers.

Bangladesh’s decision to go with four pace bowlers was hardly surprising given their own success using four pace bowlers against India just last year. The conditions in Mirpur back in June weren’t as helpful as they were on Wednesday, so Bangladesh’s plan to stop India through pace wasn’t out of place.

Their batting order appeared a bit jumbled too with regular opener Imrul Kayes coming in at No. 4 which pushed Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah too deep down the order, especially chasing a stiff 167-run target. But as the captain Mashrafe Mortaza said later, they wanted to have at least one right-handed batsmen in the crease to counter R Ashwin’s consistency.

Both approaches to batting and bowling were sensible ways to take on a format they are not really good at. Taking help from the conditions, tweaking the bowling attack and ensuring the batting order isn’t top heavy were all with the intention to rejuvenate a flagging T20 team but as a general rule, a T20 game has very little room for error. In this case, Bangladesh were undone by a crucial dropped catch, offcutters and legcutters that didn’t grip on the grassy pitch and a batting approach that required a slightly more proactive mindset.

Mashrafe didn’t blame Shakib for dropping Rohit Sharma’s chance at point in the 11th over but said that dew played a part in Mustafizur Rahman’s specialty cutters sitting up to the Indian batsmen rather than gripping and getting big on them. There were one or two that took Rohit and Hardik Pandya by surprise but the slightly wetter surface ensured the ball didn’t get a kick after pitching.

“[Dropped catch] is part of the game,” Mashrafe said. “We can’t really do much about it. A catch can be missed. He is one of our best fielders and I wanted him at point in that over because from the 12th or 13th over in T20s, we usually have most of our better fielders in crucial positions in the deep.”

“The grass on the wicket helped us and the new ball swung too. I think both teams bowled well in the first six overs. We were in the game for quite some time and even our spinners did well in these conditions. But I think since dew took over, the ball didn’t grip as we would have liked, particularly the cutters. With Rohit Sharma set in the wicket we also couldn’t bowl too full at him. I think we gave away 15-20 runs extra towards the end. If we could have had Rohit Sharma earlier, we may have stopped them for around 135-140.”

In three out of the last five overs, India scored in excess of ten runs with one Mustafizur over going for 21 runs. Rohit and Pandya added 50 runs in the first 13 minutes of their fifth-wicket partnership, and ended with adding 61 runs in just 4.3 overs. By contrast, Bangladesh had only one over in the last five of their chase in which at least ten runs were scored. Sabbir Rahman, despite being dropped in the 11th over like Rohit – though it was a tougher chance for Pandya off his own bowling – couldn’t kick on as he tried to manufacture shots. Rohit on the other hand mostly played his natural game and succeeded.

Mashrafe said that they lacked partnerships and the ones they did conjure had to be done at a faster rate. “We should have had some partnerships going from the start but we also had to consider that in T20s, it becomes harder if we try to build a partnership, particularly in a chase.

“I think something like 15 runs is just a matter of one over but because those early wickets really hurt us. If we had wickets in hand towards the end, 15 or 20 runs in an over would have helped us,” he said.

Bangladesh next take on the UAE on Friday against whom they would be expected to win. The forward-thinking method made them look stronger and more confident, so it should not be overruled by a safety-first approach. Bangladesh have long been in the back of the line when it came to getting on with the T20 bandwagon. Wednesday was one way to show that they can be bolder.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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