12:01 AM, February 18, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

Defensive Mushfiqur

Defensive Mushfiqur

Naimul Karim

In an ideal cricketing world, when a side is struggling at 67 for eight one would expect the fielding captain to have his best bowlers operating from both ends, with close-in fielders dominating the batsman's field of vision in order to bring a quick end to the innings.
The match at Mirpur yesterday however, followed a rather unfamiliar script. Not only did the Sri Lankans avoid a quick end to their innings but remarkably went on to post a defendable total.        
Thisara Perera's score of 80 was the third highest by a number nine in ODIs. The ninth and tenth wickets added 113 runs for Sri Lanka, which happens to be their second highest ever.
While Perera and co -- helped by some lacklustre fielding by the hosts -- displayed plenty of guts, there were several moments during the tail's fight-back that reflected Mushfiqur Rahim's defensive mindset on the field.
Until the 19th over Arafat Sunny had brilliant figures of 2 for 7 in five overs. The 23rd saw Perera start the counter by hitting three sixes off Sunny, the first of which was palmed over by Shohag Gazi at the boundary rope. All of a sudden Sunny, who seemed threatening throughout, was taken off; that over was his last of the match.
Instead of putting pressure on the batsmen with the side's best bowlers during that crucial moment, the captain brought on Mahmudullah Riyad, who unfortunately had a torrid time with the ball.
He had a bad time on the field as well, dropping Senayanake at slip in the 26th over off Gazi. But what was perhaps more surprising was that Perera's aggression compelled the captain to remove the slips, even though the opponents were eight down and numbers nine and ten were at the crease.
While Perera being left-handed could have been a reason behind bowling Gazi and Riyad, the strategy did not seem to work and should have been changed sooner than it was. It was something that Mushfiqur eventually did by bringing in Shakib Al Hasan in the 34th over, more than 11 overs after the eighth wicket fell. By then the visitors had already put on 140 on the board.
Shakib, who finished his first spell in the 18th over -- 1 for 12 in three overs -- came back and broke the partnership almost instantly by bowling Senayanake.
Captaincy cannot be the only factor to be blamed. Bangladesh's performance on the field, which saw them drop four simple catches -- three of them off Perera's bat -- played a role as well.
Bangladesh were at fault at a number of stages during the game; they seemed slightly overconfident during the chase, threw away their wickets and dropped a number of catches. However, it was the defensive mindset while on the field that ended up costing them the match.



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