THE SPEEDWAGON! Bangladesh pacers (R-L) Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain and Shafiul Islam line up to bowl in the nets during a training session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday. Mashrafe may be back for the Tigers for today's second one-day international against Sri Lanka. Photo: Star
When Bangladesh face Sri Lanka in the second ODI of the three-match series at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur today, fans would dearly hope that the home side does not waste any more opportunities. It's a do-or-die match for the Tigers not only because another defeat will seal a series defeat but also because they cannot afford to have their confidence further dented ahead of the two big events -- Asia Cup and ICC World Twenty20 -- at home.
Things could so easily have been different for Bangladesh if they had not played slipshod cricket to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the first game. It may be unwise to dwell too long on the past, but lessons must be learnt instead of blaming any imagined misfortune if they want to bounce back in the series in a format of the game they are most comfortable in. Since the poor showing in the first Test at Mirpur, Bangladesh have been playing some good cricket and probably deserved a victory, but that it eluded them in the first ODI after having the opponents at 67 for eight was their own fault. After such a reversal the question that is being asked is whether Bangladesh have the will to turn it around and get that elusive win.
One cannot expect a team like Sri Lanka to collapse amateurishly in consecutive matches, so the onus is on Mushfiqur Rahim's men to play their best cricket to regain confidence.
Mushfiqur has to lead the team from the front and make sure that his team, especially the senior members, keep their wits about them under pressure. Ahead of the two mega events Mushfiqur will also have to quell speculation over his captaincy. There have always been questions about Mushfiqur's efficacy as a captain on the field, even though the team has made great strides at the highest level under his leadership. These questions were further fuelled by his poor effort in the last match not only as a batsman but also as a skipper.
He therefore faces a big challenge which not only involves raising the confidence levels of his team after the demoralisation of three near-misses, but also marshalling his resources intelligently on the field to try and affect a comeback.
The hard-working and dedicated Mushfiqur was found keeping during yesterday's practice session but it is not certain whether he will stand behind the stumps again. The team was reportedly in favour of resting him as a keeper for the next two games too but if Mushfiqur make up his mind nobody will be able to change it. Stubbornness is not sometimes bad for a leader but Mushfiqur must also acknowledge his mistakes and listen to the team management.
On the eve of the second match the big question was how many changes the team management would make. Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was seen to be bowling at full stretch yesterday and has a good chance of playing the match and there is also a possibility of fielding three pacers. The team management has been mulling many options and will settle on a combination in the morning today after an assessment on Tamim Iqbal, who has been suffering from neck sprain.
It would however be a cause for surprise is Mushfiqur continues to place faith on Mahmudullah Riyad and keep Naeem Islam out.