Bangladesh cricket has reached a stage where only winning a game or series against Zimbabwe would serve little purpose. Now, the Tigers must also exercise the luxury of experimenting with a few fresh faces along the way.
After the 28-run win in the first ODI against Zimbabwe, the Tigers are keen to correct mistakes made in the recent past while remaining clinical which, according to Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, should go hand-in-hand.
"We have to be clinical and find ways to provide opportunities to one or two players without losing the game. As they [Ariful Haque, Abu Hider and Nazmul Hossain Shanto] are with the team, they are used to the atmosphere so they can come in and quickly perform," Mashrafe told reporters at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram yesterday on the eve of a potentially series-deciding second match.
"It is important to have such mental and physical toughness to prepare themselves and ensure that they won't take three-four matches to perform."
The inspirational captain also backed newcomer Fazle Mahmud, who was dismissed for a duck on his international debut in the first ODI, and said that he deserved another chance.
"I personally feel that he [Fazle] deserves one more opportunity because you can't judge a player from just one game. Since we picked him in the squad we must give him enough chances but that's not only my decision. You can't blame him due to the [quality of] the delivery that dismissed him. You can't play the blame game in cricket. We have backed new players in the recent past as far as possible but we also don't have that much room for luxury so we have to keep that in mind too," the ODI skipper added.
He also mentioned the pressure that newcomers to the international game finds themselves under and said they needed time to adjust.
"Firstly it is the presence of cameras. It automatically brings extra pressure when a player knows that the match is being televised. There is also the home crowd, and of course social media which also plays a big part these days. The press, teammates and family are also there but all of these things don't really matter at the domestic level. Nobody even bothers with what's happening there, so it is a huge difference," Mashrafe added.
Bangladesh, with two of their most experienced cricketers in Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal missing the series due to injury, will try and test the others. But Mashrafe also said that they could not afford to make any mistakes on the back of experimenting with new faces.
"We will play with the same mentality we had in the Asia Cup. We don't want to make any mistakes as we lost against Hong Kong at the same ground. So, we don't want to give [Zimbabwe] any chances," Mashrafe said.
Bangladesh have won eleven consecutive games so far against Zimbabwe and skipper Mashrafe was even more confident because they had never been beaten by Zimbabwe in Chattogram. The Tigers have won five out of six matches played at this ground, with the other being abandoned.