What direction do Tigers take now?
The historic 4-1 series win against Australia was the Tigers' most significant series win in the T20 format, considered to be Bangladesh's Achilles heel. It will be a massive confidence boost ahead of the T20 World Cup, especially for a side missing a few key players, but in terms of preparations with two months to go until the tournament, how the latest series win adds up remains to be seen. And with the New Zealand series on the horizon, what should be Bangladesh's intention going forward?
The Tigers found lots of value as a number of young players displayed the character, attitude and confidence required in international cricket.
Facing Australia's skill with the ball, there were many intense scenarios that played out in this series. Handling pressure situations has always been a worry for the Tigers and in that regard the just concluded series will breed necessary belief.
In essence, Bangladesh arguably gambled that the team would succeed in executing its plans. The team think-tank was reliant on the fact that Bangladesh bowling would fare better than their counterparts and although four of the five T20Is were close contests, it was largely the bowlers that made the difference, using the conditions to their fullest potential in tight situations.
Ultimately, discussions around those conditions are a different issue altogether. In terms of winning the series, there would not have not been better conditions anywhere else to pull off a feat of the magnitude. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) had insisted on playing matches in different venues and not just Mirpur but Australia, keeping the pandemic in mind, opted for just one venue.
On these wickets, neither team's scores exceeded the 131 runs that Bangladesh posted in the first T20I. In their 144-year history, Australia produced their shortest innings in any format, plummeting to 62 all out in the final T20I. It was also their lowest-ever T20I score.
The balls kept low, the new batsmen from both sides found going tough and even after spending time at the crease, failed to play their shots.
Bangladesh's batsmen, used to such surfaces, consistently fell 10-15 runs short when batting first and that should be concerning as the rub of the green -- a very literal one in this case -- will not favour the Tigers' away from home, where the batsman will again have to adjust.
"The team winning is the most important, although o this slow, low, turning wicket, batsmen will probably not score many runs," ace all-rounder Shakib said after the series win.
The question now is whether the think-tank will think about another series win on low, turning tracks against New Zealand or give some much-needed focus on the batsmen's room for improvement.
With Bangladesh not scheduled to play any more T20Is after the New Zealand series, the focus ideally should be to play on pitches that resemble conditions in UAE, where the World Cup will be played. Shakib will probably get an opportunity to play in the IPL leading up to the tournament and can use that opportunity to adapt to the wickets, but the same cannot be said of the others.
Australia skipper Matthew Wade said that the pitches in the West Indies were better suited to gauging their performances, reiterating that conditions in ICC tournaments would not be similar to those in Bangladesh. In fact, the conditions in Bangladesh were extreme, especially for the T20 format.
Ahead of the 2015 World Cup, the Tigers, went to Australia under coach Chandika Hathurusingha early to prepare and acclimatise to conditions. They lost warm-up matches to Ireland and Pakistan, but those defeats did not hinder the experience gathered from such matches. Even at the expense of losing the upcoming series, should the Tigers prepare better tracks against the Kiwis to properly gauge themselves and prepare for the tournament?