Tough to predict Mirpur toss outcome if Shakib wins
A team on a winning run, or one that had just broken a losing streak, usually keep their playing eleven and tactics unchanged, and for Bangladesh it is almost always the case.
It is rare to see every player contribute in a match, especially in the shortest format but Shakib Al Hasan and troops fired on all cylinders to outclass the reigning world champions in the T20I series opener at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram on Thursday, right after the Tamim Iqbal-led ODI side denied the visitors a clean series sweep at the same venue.
Unless the factor of injury or fitness comes into play, one could expect the Bangladesh think tank to field the same eleven. And if Shakib wins the toss in the penultimate match of the series on Sunday, one could also expect Shakib opting to chase after the flawless batting display in the port city, and keeping in mind the track record at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium (SBNCS).
However, the Mirpur factor makes the latter uncertain. Looking at the Tigers' last five T20Is at the SBNCS played following the 2021 T20 World Cup under the leadership of their previous captain Mahmudullah Riyad, the home side lost four out of the five encounters – three against Pakistan and two against Afghanistan. An interesting takeaway from this rather small sample size: Bangladesh won the toss and opted to bat first in all five games but only had a solitary result in their favour, against Afghanistan.
Since playing their first T20I in Mirpur in 2011, it took Bangladesh 15 games and a little over four years to win their first game here while batting first. Although the win arrived against the UAE, the Tigers repeated the bat-first-and-win feat against Sri Lanka, two days later. When overall numbers are looked at, Bangladesh ended up chasing on more occasions (24 compared to 17) but the win ratio in both cases remained similar (around 45 per cent).
The Tigers' preference to chase had also boiled down to the fact that they lacked power-hitting prowess to pose 175-plus total on a regular basis. It's no wonder that there has only one instance of a 160-plus total from the Tigers in the past four years in Mirpur, but that did not stop Australia and New Zealand from losing five-match series here as Bangladesh tallied 19 wins out of 41 at the venue – a ratio that does not indicate how Bangladesh fared in the T20 World Cups or the overall numbers (45 wins in 129).
Now if Shakib wins the toss today, will he look to play by his team's strength, that is to bowl first and look to chase a 160 or below total? Or will the trend of Bangladesh opting to bat first as they did in the last five T20Is in Mirpur continue? The latter, however, could likely be what England want in their first game at the SBNCS as they would like to take the Tigers off their comfort zone.