A much-awaited victory against Zimbabwe in the opening game of the tri-nation T20I series on Friday will certainly give Bangladesh a breath fresh air following their dismal showings in all three formats of the game in recent times, but one cannot hide from the fact that there are still many concerns for head coach Russell Domingo across various aspects of the game.
Despite a disciplined performance from most bowlers -- barring Shakib Al Hasan, who went for thirty runs in an over that gave Zimbabwe the momentum to post a challenging total -- the Tigers’ poor batting display in chase of the 145-run target nearly caused the home side to face another humiliating defeat.
19-year-old Afif Hossain, making a comeback to the national side after just over a year after a disappoint debut, made the difference, going after the Zimbabwe bowlers and forging a match-winning 82-run partnership with Mosaddek Hossain to take the Tigers over the line.
Bangladesh’s limited-overs batting consultant Neil McKenzie praised the youngster but also backed the likes of Soumya Sarkar and Liton Das, saying they deserved support after proving their worth in the past.
“The plan was just to stick to the game plan. We knew what they would do. We knew what the challenges were so we just had to play our game. The biggest thing is that when you start doubting yourself, you don’t play your natural game. We can’t have one of our batsmen thinking that it could be his last chance so he doesn’t want to do something. We have to go out there and play positive cricket and play for Bangladesh,” McKenzie told reporters yesterday.
Bangladesh will be up against an upbeat Afghanistan, who registered a huge 224-run win against the hosts in the one-off Test match earlier this month. More importantly, Rashid Khan’s side will be playing their favoured format -- T20s.
According to McKenzie, the team management has got plans reserved for their opponents, especially when it comes to tackling their world-class spinners.
“We have some ideas upfront. We faced them quite a few times and had success against them. We have got the guys who can handle them. I think they need to trust themselves and play for each other. We know that singles are going to be key and you can’t get stuck at one end,” he said.
The 43-year-old pointed out that, given the expectations from the supporters, sometimes it was Bangladesh who became the worst enemy of the side.
“I think sometimes our worst enemy is Bangladesh. Because we put too much pressure on ourselves. We should trust our players. That trust goes for the spectators and media and everybody. They are not machines, they are humans. We should just get behind our team and back our team and [believe that] even if we lose tomorrow, we will win the next game. We don’t come out to lose. Bangladesh come out to play 100 per cent positive cricket with no fear,” McKenzie added.