Desperation to win setting Tigers up for failure?
What is more important: a false sense of achievement or a harsh realisation that will eventually make you stronger? As Bangladesh prepare to host a second-string New Zealand side for a five-match T20I series starting from September 1, that question is the most pertinent one for the team's think-tank.
None of the 16 members of the Kiwis' side for the tour will be included in their squad for the upcoming T20I World Cup, which makes it clear that the Kiwis do not consider this tour ideal preparation for the showpiece event just over a month away. However, the New Zealand squad still have a number of talented players within their ranks.
For instance, touring for the Kiwis is Finn Allen, who emerged as the breakout star in the latest edition of Super Smash, New Zealand's premier T20 league. He plundered 512 runs in 11 innings at a stellar strike rate of 193.93 and smashed 25 sixes, the most in the Super League, in February this year. The attacking opener also has experience against the Tigers, with all three of his T20I caps coming against Bangladesh during the Tigers' tour of New Zealand earlier this year and his T20I-best score of 71 being recorded in the third T20I.
Aside from Allen, the team include the likes of Tom Latham, who will be leading them on this tour, Colin de Grandhomme, Hamish Bennett and Henry Nicholls -- all of whom have their fair share of experience at the international level and in franchise T20 leagues around the globe.
But will these players be able to give the Tigers a real challenge and help them prepare for what is waiting for them in the T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman in October-November this year?
The truth is that even if the likes of Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Lockie Ferguson toured, Bangladesh would still be the favourites for the upcoming series if they decided to opt for yet another slow, low and gripping Mirpur pitch similar to the surfaces during a historic first-ever bilateral series triumph against the Aussies earlier this month.
Winning ought to boost confidence, but at times winning in favourable conditions only can severely add to a false sense of achievement. That can be far more detrimental to a team than a few losses in challenging conditions, which could actually help a team grow and adapt accordingly.
The trend for Bangladesh over the past five years goes to show just how a false sense of achievement has impacted the Tigers' performance.
In that period, Bangladesh won 25 of the 40 games played across formats at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, which typically behaved more or less the way it did during the recent tour of Australia. A winning rate of 62.5 per cent should have seen Bangladesh make massive strides in the game, at least going by the logic that counts winning as the only measure of success.
However, while Bangladesh kept bolstering their confidence in Mirpur, the Tigers saw the other side of the coin when playing overseas over the same period, losing 48 of 67 games played across formats with a winning rate of just 23.88 per cent.
After hammering Australia 4-1 in their last T20I series, Bangladesh are now in high spirits and looking to put up another dominant showing against the Kiwis in the coming month.
But if the team management decides to employ the same tactic against the Kiwis as they did against Australia, it would probably only serve to improve their winning rate on a favourable Mirpur pitch. That would also mean that the quality of cricket during the New Zealand series will also be far from what is required for an ideal preparation ahead of an event as big as a T20 World Cup.
It is true that teams need to utilise home conditions to make the most of them. And like every other home series, the Bangladesh team management must opt to use the home conditions to assist their cause this time around as well. Only this time, the difference should be that they prepare a true cricketing wicket that will genuinely challenge the Tigers' abilities.
That may see them lose a few T20Is, but will certainly help the players recognise their shortcomings and rectify them before the T20I World Cup, which, in fact, is the true purpose of this series.