By Wisden India staff in Mirpur
Prior to final group game, Bangladesh captain struggles to explain his team’s disastrous performance at the World T20
It hasn’t won a match at the ICC World Twenty20 proper following the six-wicket shock of West Indies in Johannesburg in September 2007, although it did defeat Afghanistan and Nepal in its opening two matches of this year’s World T20 in the qualification phase.
Bangladesh’s overall performance this time, with losses to Hong Kong, West Indies, India and Pakistan, shouldn’t therefore come as a massive surprise even though it is playing at home. But as Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh’s under-fire captain, admitted, it was more the manner in which the team has played that has been the big letdown.
“It is true (that expectations are low in T20). But for it to happen like this ... I would say that we are a team capable of putting up a fight,” said Rahim on the eve of the last Super 10 game against Australia on Tuesday (April 1). “The four or five (key) players that we have, if they were in peak form, maybe the games would have been different. Maybe we would have gone close or on a good day we could have beaten a big team. But it is true that we are not a strong T20 outfit on paper. And the teams that we were playing against are much stronger. Apart from the Hong Kong game, we played well in the first round, but in this round we were disappointing. We did not expect that we would play this badly.
“When things are not happening, then even trying from multiple angles will not help. On the other hand, when things are going well, it does not mean that we are doing everything perfectly – in that flow, we sometimes overcome many of our mistakes. But it is true that the margins of losses or the way we are approaching games may be catching the eye now. When a batsman is out of form, it is very difficult for him to turn things around in T20s. This is where we are lacking a little. It has been seen that one or two of our bowlers are bowling well, and our opponents are smart in deciding to see off those bowlers and capitalising from the other end. If in 20 overs three bowlers are bowling well, it's a different game, but when one is bowling well, it's different.”
More than the bowling, Rahim observed, it was the batting that was bigger area of concern. “I think we have played the worst in the first six overs in the last three matches. It is difficult because we do not have power hitters like (Shahid) Afridi. The first six overs are important, and we have not been able to capitalise on those recently. Power hitting is of two types. One is you are set and playing in the middle overs and then there are players like Afridi, (Darren) Sammy who come in in the death overs and in those three or four overs, do their stuff. They probably hit sixes that are 10 or 15 metres longer, but it is counted only as six. But what I am saying is that our top batsmen are not able to play in the slog overs. It is difficult for new batsmen to hit from the word go,” he said.
Rahim has been a big proponent of the process-as-opposed-to-result theory, and he refused to admit that his team was not following the processes. “When you are playing badly, then the enjoyment goes down. If you are not getting success, it is difficult to come back. The processes, even if we have a plan, sometimes our thinking in crunch moments pans out differently. Everyone has it in the back of their minds that we have to win this match, we have to play well. Instead of thinking that way, if we enjoy the challenge 100%, not throwing caution to the wind but enjoying the occasion – such a big tournament, such big teams...” he said.
“If we play against these guys, we can do something different and let's just see what happens. In the back of the mind, that is the effort we are putting in, but when you are playing badly, it becomes difficult to maintain it. I would say the process is okay but we are unable to execute well. Whether you play well or badly, the processes have to be right, because it is the small things that make a difference. Because we cannot do that, maybe that is why we are losing by such big margins. We have one game left, we will try to play freely. It cannot get worse, losing by 50 runs in T20s is like losing by 100-150 runs in ODIs.”
Some of the senior players, most notably Tamim Iqbal, haven’t been among the runs but Rahim said dropping them wasn’t the solution. “You have to wait another eight-ten years to get another Mushfiq, Tamim or Shakib (Al Hasan). The solution lies in identifying which team combination will be able to play best against a particular team. (But) if dropping is the solution, then why not? And no player is bigger than the team, there is nothing to say that he cannot be dropped. If our team management thinks that it would be good if he is dropped, then that will happen. But I think those of us who are in the team, if we can play with more responsibility, then it will be different,” explained Rahim.