When Bangladesh takes on UAE in their second Asia Cup T20 match this evening at Mirpur, nothing but a comprehensive win would be expected from the Tigers. The question is whether Bangladesh are clear favourites against the ICC Associate Member country in the T20 format. The defeat against India in the opener is not the reason behind that question; it is not as if all is lost following the 45-run loss.
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza expressed his optimism yesterday about his team's turnaround, and Bangladesh may well thrash their opponents today to stay alive in the tournament. But the opposite can also happen because the Tigers are yet to find their feet in the shortest version of the game, while UAE showed in the qualifiers that they are not here just to make up the numbers. Bangladesh experimented in their last T20 series against Zimbabwe, which was the reason they said that the series was shared with the struggling African side. That was followed by lengthy T20 preparation camps. But the first match against India once again demonstrated that a lot more work needs to be done for the Tigers to become a force in this format, like they are in 50-over cricket.
“I am hopeful that the team will bounce back but the reality is that we have a lack of resources for T20 cricket. The more we play the more we will learn the craft and in this contest the most important thing is to continue our domestic T20 competition,” said former national captain-turned-selector Habibul Bashar yesterday.
Mashrafe said yesterday that they made some mistakes in the first game and they will play much better cricket today against the UAE. Yes, improving their fielding and brining changes to the batting order may get some results. The way Soumya Sarkar tried to execute a flick while the ball swung puzzled many. The left-hander may correct his mistake to overcome his prolonged bad patch but the question was whether Bangladesh has the T20 shrewdness or the firepower in their batting to change the complexion of a match in quick time. Is there someone at the top who can build an innings and make it a big one? Is there anyone like Hadrik Pandya in the late order who can put the opposition bowlers to the sword?
Mashrafe was as usual optimistic. “Nothing changes overnight. In T20 we still have plenty to gain. I feel we are on the right path; it's not possible to play well every day, but if we play like we did in the first 15 overs against India, we will gradually go to a nice place. At least the thought process that we cannot play well in T20 cricket has changed,” opined Mashrafe.
Mashrafe is in favour of a combined effort for T20 success rather than any individual brilliance. “What matters is that we have to play as a team. In other teams what happen is that two or three players can change the game. But with regards to us, as a team even if we can play small innings, all together we can produce a good result,” he suggested.
In the end everything may not be solved if Bangladesh win today against UAE but they desperately need to win, not only to stay in the tournament but also to get some valuable winning experience.