Wed, 19 Dec 2018
23
Dubai

Mashrafe irked by BCB's batting reinforcements

ESPNCricInfo
23 Sep 2018, 01:42 GMT+10

11:26 AM ET

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza has made it clear he wasn't consulted before the BCB flew in two batting reinforcements in Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar for the remainder of the Asia Cup. He was unsure how bringing two new players into the squad would lift an under-fire team that needs backing after losses to Afghanistan and India, where they were bowled out for 119 and 173 respectively.

"Listen, those who are coming in have also lost their places in the team," he said. "As I said, there has not been a discussion on this. They were dropped because they have not performed. And in these conditions, I don't know what they have done technically to suddenly come in and take the pressure. Whether they have rectified the problems for which they were dropped in the first place, I'm not sure. So all these things will matter in such a tournament."

The loss to India now puts Bangladesh in a must-win situation as they prepare to face Afghanistan again to stay alive in the Asia Cup. Shakib Al Hasan, the vice-captain, summed up the confusion best through a cheeky remark when asked about the team combination for Sunday's game. "Since you get the news [early], maybe you will also get the news of who is playing and who is not."

Nazmul Hossain Shanto, the 20-year-old left-handed opener, has scores of 7 and 7 in his only two ODIs here at the Asia Cup after being brought in as Tamim Iqbal's replacement. He was part of the West Indies tour earlier this summer, but returned without playing a game. He made his Test debut in New Zealand in January 2017, and has been among the more consistent domestic performers since; his temperament and poise even eliciting rich praise from his Khulna Titans coach Mahela Jayawardene.

Liton Das, meanwhile, is the regular Test wicketkeeper who is seen as a like-for-like replacement should Mushfiqur Rahim's workload need some easing off. At the Asia Cup so far, he hasn't hit top form, aggregating scores of 7, 6 and 0 in his three innings. Liton was incidentally tried for the opening slot only after Anamul Haque failed to nail down a place after a successive run of seven ODIs since January, where his highest was 35.

Anamul, meanwhile, had replaced Soumya, while Kayes has been in and out of the ODI set-up over the last two years. He hadn't been picked since the series in South Africa last October where he made 100 runs in three ODIs. This merry-go-round situation isn't ideal, but Shakib called for calmer heads and consistency in selection to derive the desired results.

"Actually, we put so much pressure on them [young players] in such a short time, that their chances of performing well reduces even further. The people you are talking about - the four or five of us (Mushfiqur, Tamim, Shakib, Mahmudullah) - we were never superheroes.

"You may be looking at our careers over the last two-three-four years. But the previous six or seven years, the cricket we have played, how well did we actually play? People start doing well only after encountering many situations and learning from them. Maybe we are not able to give them the chance or create that situation."

Mashrafe, who has been vocal about the scheduling earlier in the tournament, also didn't stop short of speaking his mind, admitting to being confused by the signals sent out by the BCB at the sudden turn of events.

"Particularly for the Afghanistan match, if you think about it, they [Soumya and Kayes] will have to face even tougher bowlers. For sure, it won't be easy for anyone - not for those who are currently playing, nor for those coming in. But in international cricket, you have to score, bat well and bowl well within that, and we have staged comebacks like these. Nothing is impossible, whoever plays has to take a little responsibility."

While he wasn't sure of the external factors at play, Mashrafe insisted there had been no pressure on the batsmen from within the team. He insisted batsmen were given a clear mandate to play freely, without worrying about run rates, given how dry surfaces have produced middling totals both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. However, he called for a strong show from the top order to ease pressure.

"Actually, we don't really want runs [in the early overs]; it's not like we have to score 60 in the first 10 overs. We know that there are new balls from each end and you need to take time," Mashrafe explained. "In the recent past, we've tried to look for 30-35 or 40-45.

"If you see since the West Indies tour, the middle order has always had to set up the game. If you keep asking this from the middle order all the time, it becomes difficult. As we have been saying for some time now, the middle order will not score all the time. Ultimately, in such matches when two quick wickets fall, there is a lot of pressure on the middle order. We have collapsed in two successive matches."

Amid all the confusion, Mashrafe wanted his team to only look as far back as the West Indies tour after they bounced back from losing the two Tests in five days combined to clinch the ODI series.

"I think it is still possible. I, of course, believe it is still possible," he said. "We've done it recently. I don't think that there is reason to lose hope. I think we have a chance to come back. If we have a good day and can win the match [against Afghanistan], there will be a 50-50 chance in the match against Pakistan."

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