By Wisden India staff in Mirpur
Fielding gaffes and a slow start cost Bangladesh the match, says despondent captain, admitting that the lack of confidence didn't help
In keeping with its poor run, Bangladesh was trounced by 73 runs in its opening Group 2 Super 10 match on Tuesday (March 25) at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium by West Indies, after which Rahim spoke of the lack of confidence within the ranks.
“Most of the players are not in the momentum of performance,” Rahim said. “A free mind, the touch – that is not there. We have to overcome these issues quickly. It is quite obvious there will be pressure, criticism. The expectations are big because of how we played in the last two years.
“The confidence is low because of batting and bowling form. It is reflected in our catching and fielding, as I feel some are mentally down,” added Rahim, referring to a poor performance in the field to go with ordinary bowling and forgettable batting. “We are trying to find the main problem. It could be that previously, our players could play their natural game freely from their positions. We didn’t get the results in the last three months. The pressure is about keeping their own places, and that’s when you succumb to pressure and can’t play naturally. In the Twenty20 format, you have to start scoring quickly, so it becomes difficult for those out of form. We can’t think like this, what we have to do is give our best. We have to play our natural game as we did in the last two years.”
Rahim said a defeat such as this was difficult to digest. “Nothing is working in our favour. We are trying different combinations and trying guys in different spots but nothing is going right for us,” he lamented. “We didn’t play well, at least batting and bowling can go either way but fielding needs to be good. That’s the only area you can probably improve quickly in. Probably we needed not match-winning but at least a couple of good performances throughout this tournament so that we can lift our standards. That should be our biggest challenge in the next couple of games and couple of days.”
The feeling of despondency was hard to miss as he talked of what his team hoped for from here. “We should play 40 overs of competitive cricket so that we can at least come up with a good fight against big teams,” he said. “That should be our main challenge. I believe our team has that strength, we just need good starts with the ball and the bat and definitely we need to field well.”
In the lead-up to this game, Shakib Al Hasan, the star player of the team and a former captain, had said for Bangladesh to have any chance of victory, other teams needed to have an off-day. Asked if that was the best statement to come from a senior player and whether it didn’t reflect a defeatist mindset, Rahim tried hard to douse the fire. “People don’t just have an off-day. India bowled well against West Indies, created mistakes and took their catches. What he meant was that you put the opposition under so much pressure that they have an off-day,” Rahim offered. “What he said wasn’t bad. The senior players want to take the pressure off the younger players, off-form players.”
Bangladesh made four changes to the XI that was beaten by Hong Kong. “There are days when players don’t perform well. And also, in the T20 format, if you pick particular players, you have to make other changes to suit your combination,” Rahim reasoned. “You take a batsman and you will have to pick a different bowler, so a couple of such things. We also have to bear in mind who we are playing and in what conditions we are playing. We picked the right team but didn’t perform well, especially in fielding. That cost us the game really; we also didn’t bat well in the first six overs. If we had got a good start, probably it could have been different ball game.”
Bangladesh isn't exactly the most accomplished chaser, but Rahim explained the reason behind opting to field first. “In Mirpur, we saw in the last few matches that it’s not easy to bat first and set a target. You never know what is a good target. Probably, if we had bowled and fielded well and restricted them to a modest total, we could have chased it down. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do that. I thought the bowling was okay but the fielding – a couple of dropped catches and couple of cheap boundaries... If it’s 150 or 160 and if we get a good start, we can at least chase that.”
Apologetic at having let the fans down, he said, “It’s really disappointing. But I thank the crowd for coming and supporting us. I really feel sorry for them because we didn’t perform well in the last few matches. Hopefully, we will come up with some good performances in the next couple of days. We have to improve as much for ourselves as for them.”