Did think-tank's exercise serve any purpose?

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe
Bangladesh batter Afif Hossain hit unbeaten 27-ball 39 but his effort was not good enough as Zimbabwe clinched the T20I series 2-1 with a 10-run victory in the final match at the Harare Sports Club ground yesterday. Photo: Twitter

Although there was little at stake for Bangladesh in the three-match T20I series against Zimbabwe, there were keen eyes on the performance from the new-look squad led by new skipper Nurul Hasan Sohan.

There was a sign of desperation from the Bangladesh think-tank as they looked to provide a platform for a younger crop of cricketers that would allow them to express themselves in the shortest format and the think-thank opted to go to Zimbabwe without any of their big four. Mahmudullah Riyad and Mushfiqur Rahim were rested for the T20I series while Tamim Iqbal retired from the format and Shakib Al Hasan took a leave for the entire sojourn.

Interestingly, the three-match T20I series saw Bangladesh field two captains. Regular skipper Mahmudullah was rested initially, but when Nurul Hasan Sohan injured himself, the think-tank took a U-turn and included him for the third match.

There was a further surprise from the team management when they announced that Mosaddek Hossain would be captain for the third and final game on Tuesday in place of Sohan, although Mahmudullah would go on to play the game.

Prior to departing for Zimbabwe, team director Khaled Mahmud said that he would not be upset even if Bangladesh lost 3-0 provided that they played with freedom.

"We can only try out new players in T20Is. I won't be a bit upset if we lose 3-0 in Zimbabwe. Because I don't want to put this pressure on them. I want them to play with freedom. What is important is their body language and whether we can play T20 cricket like the format requires," Mahmud told the media.

But even when it came to performance on the field, there were hardly any positives to take home.

The Tigers started off the series with a 17-run defeat in the first T20I and their bowlers looked ordinary as Zimbabwe ended up posting 205 for three. In reply, the visitors ended up on 188 for six on a batting-friendly Harare pitch.

The visitors bounced back in the second game courtesy of Mosaddek Hossain's maiden five-wicket haul that restricted Zimbabwe to 135 for eight, eventually winning by seven wickets and leveling the series.

But things remained unchanged in terms of their attitude for the third and series-deciding encounter yesterday. Although Zimbabwe were struggling for 67 for six inside 13 overs, they went on to post a challenging total of 156 for eight. In reply, Bangladesh fell short by 10 runs.
The Tigers' intent remained questionable and there were no exceptional performances from any of the players that were given the opportunity to express themselves. The likes of Anamul Haque, Munim Shahriar, Najmul Hossain Shanto and Parvez Hossain Emon, who made his T20I debut in the third game, were disappointing.

So the question remains, even if the result is disregarded, did the performances provide the think-tank with the confidence that their purpose had been served as they look for a new beginning in the shortest format of the game?

Zimbabwe: 156 for 8 in 20 overs (Chakabva 17, Ervine 24, Burl 54, Jongwe 35; Mahedi 2-28, Hasan 2-28)
Bangladesh: 146 for 8 in 20 overs (Liton 13, Anamul 14, Shanto 16, Mahmudullah 27, Afif 39 not out, Mahedi 22; Evans 2-26, Nyauchi 3-29)
Result: Zimbabwe won by 10 runs.
Player-of-the-match: Ryan Burl.
Player-of-the-series: Sikandar Raza.


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