Tamim Iqbal, with 59 runs from three innings in the World Cup, was the first to go to the nets at the Bristol County Ground in practice yesterday ahead of today’s match against Sri Lanka. He had a long discussion with batting consultant Neil McKenzie, before having a net session.
By the time Tamim had finished batting, Mahmudullah Riyad, another member of the Big Five, was engaged in a lengthy conversation at a corner of the rectangular ground with skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza. The conversation was an animated one, and while only of those two would know what it was, Riyad then proceeded to go to the nets propped up beside the centre wicket and hit the bowlers -- net bowlers and teammates -- all around the park.
Along with Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim, these five cricketers have carried the weight of the team’s fortunes for much of the last decade, and it is understandable that failures -- like Mahmudullah getting off to slow starts in the defeats against New Zealand and England -- weight heavily, especially in the World Cup.
“Seniors have a greater role at times. Seniors feel pressure on the field when everything is not going well,” said Mashrafe during the pre-match press conference yesterday. “It’s important that everyone is trying to give their best. In the first match, seniors performed -- Shakib and Mushfiqur scored – but juniors also played a role. It is a team of 11, everyone has a responsibility. Along with that, if the seniors can contribute the way they have done before, then it will be easy to win these matches.”
While the team had a rest day the previous day, Tamim ventured to the indoor nets to face throwdowns, indicating how important it was for the left-hander to get going.
“We are all trying. Tamim has been the team’s best batsman over the last four years. I think he is the one who feels the worst about not being able to give the team his best in the last three matches,” Mashrafe said.
When asked about Mahmudullah’s slow starts, Mashrafe was quick to protect his lieutenants. “To be honest, I am looking at things positively. I think everyone is okay mentally. We are all emotional and we want to get everything overnight. Players are like that too -- they want to play well in every match. Riyad has to play that way in every match, ‘why is Tamim not scoring hundreds?’ and such. Tamim also takes the field with that expectation. It is more important that this buzz does not enter the dressing room. Because if it does, there will be pressure. So the further they stay away, the more freely they can play.”
“In the first match Riyad performed his role. In the last match [against England], he knows what he thought or maybe I will know if I talk to him, but if you see the second match [against New Zealand], he was going in the right direction, but got out when he was about to accelerate. And then some wickets fell quickly, so maybe Riyad should have played shots deeper into the innings, but he got out trying to do that. I would say the same of [Mohammad] Mithun. When you lose these things arise, if Bangladesh lost against the World XI it would have been the same.”
Tamim Iqbal is the highest run getter for Bangladesh against Sri Lanka. The stylish left-hander has amassed 645 runs in the 21 matches he played against the Islanders.
Mushfiqur Rahim’s 150-ball 144 against Sri Lanka during the last meeting between the two sides remains the highest individual score by any player in either of the two team’s current World Cup squads.
Bangladesh’s largest margin of victory -- a 163-run win -- came against Sri Lanka when the two sides met during a tri-nation series in Dhaka in January 2018.
Among the players in Sri Lanka’s current World Cup Squad, Kusal Perera is the highest scorer for the Islanders against Bangladesh. The left-hander scored 262 runs in the nine games he played against the Tigers.
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has scalped 26 wickets -- the most by any player on either of the sides’ current World Cup squads -- in the 22 matches he played against Sri Lanka. However, Sri Lanka’s ace pacer Lasith Malinga is just behind Mashrafe on the list with 24 wickets to his name despite having played 12 games less