If life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it, the attitude of Bangladesh cricket team going into the ICC WT20 2016 Super Ten match against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata is really essential in both senses of the word.
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza wanted his players to play with confidence against Pakistan built on good performances of late in T20Is. "Obviously, there is some confidence. In the last one and a half years, we played good cricket in ODIs, but T20Is were always difficult for us. But last three-four weeks we've been playing good cricket in T20Is. Confidence is there, and we want to make it count," Mortaza said to the press.
Since the outstanding showing in 50-over format in 2015 during the World Cup down under where Bangladesh knocked out England and finished as one of the quarterfinalists, Mashrafe and his players have admirably sustained their successful run and managed to lift their game appreciably in 20-over cricket. “We played good cricket in ODIs, but T20Is were always difficult for us. But last three-four weeks we've been playing good cricket in T20Is.” Captain Courageous added.
In a brilliant 12-month period punctuated with numerous happy ‘firsts’ like maiden series wins over India, Pakistan, South Africa and World Cup quarterfinal finish, Bangladesh signed off 2015 as the as the second-best ODI side with 13 wins in 18 games.
Despite their run to the final of the Asia Cup which included victories over Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Bangladesh had to go through a qualifying phase to enter the Super Ten leg of the World Cup due to their standing in the ICC T20 rankings.
Tigers beat Netherlands by 10 runs before a washout against Ireland set them up in a virtual knockout game against Oman, who they trounced in style, thanks to a terrific Tamim Iqbal ton.
During the 54-run demolition of Oman on Sunday, the dashing opener Tamim Iqbal became the first century-maker for Bangladesh in T20Is with his superb unbeaten knock of 103. No wonder Mashrafe Mortaza believes in Bangladesh’s top-order to deliver the goods during the Super Ten matches in the days ahead.
"Tamim is in good touch since the last World Cup. Not only Tamim, actually, but all the batsmen are fired up, especially in T20 cricket. In India they can do much better than at home, because the Asia Cup was played on seaming wickets. Tamim and Sabbir are scoring regularly and Soumya is doing it in patches too. I think when the top order does well, the pressure is off the middle order." Tigers’ skipper explained to the press.
The area of concern for Bangladesh in their batting lineup is in the middle, where Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim are not enjoying the luxury of runs under their belts. Mushy has been out in single figures in four of his five most recent outings. Tigers allrounder hasn’t scored anything substantial since his 35-ball 51 on February 5 for Karachi at the Pakistan Super League.
The lively Sabbir Rahman has been Tigers’ go-to batsman in the top-order in 2016 with 388 runs in 12 T20I innings at an average of 43.11, including two half-tons to his name. He needs so convert those entertaining cameos to something bigger, and show he can finish the game as well. Mahmudullah’s form of late has been nothing short of impressive, and his quick runs in the end will always come in handy.
"I want everyone to perform but in this format, you don't always get time," Mashrafe said. "Especially for those batting in the middle order who don't get time to get settled in the crease.”
The task in hand for Mashrafe Mortaza and co is a especially tough one after coming from an area with sub-10 degrees Celsius temperatures to a scorching and stuffy Kolkata, closer to sea-level.
On the positive note, Mustafizur Rahman went through a full-length bowling session on the practice wickets at Eden Gardens yesterday and Taskin Ahmed rejoined the side after attending his bowling test in Chennai, the one he had to give after his action had been questioned by the ICC.
Since the likelihood of Mustafizur playing is quite high, Bangladesh team management will face a catch-22 situation for today’s clash, and may consider including Nasir Hossain in the ranks to shore up the spin department with lower-order batting instead of coming out with a four-pronged pace attack.
Given the conditions at Eden Gardens are vastly different to the seaming tracks at Mirpur during the Asia Cup 2016, Bangladesh may field a slow-bowling allrounder. If New Zealand’s slow bowlers taking nine wickets between them during their emphatic 47-run win over India at Nagpur on March 15 is anything to go by, Bangladesh team management will need to readdress their pace laden bowling attack for Eden Gardens, where this present generation of Bangladesh cricketers have never played an international match before.
GROUP STAGE SCHEDULE
March 16, Wednesday: versus Pakistan, Eden Gardens, Kolkata
March 21, Monday: versus Australia, M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
March 23, Wednesday: versus India, M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
March 26, Saturday: versus New Zealand, Eden Gardens, Kolkata