Promise of fearlessness breeds more fear
Bangladesh left for Zimbabwe with the aim to play fearless cricket but after dismal performances saw the visitors lose both three-match T20I and ODI series, it seems the Tigers will return home laden with fear.
A fear of failure among the players, lack of consistency or clarity from selectors and a whole lot of confusion within the Bangladesh think-tank ensures some hard times for the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) in the coming days.
There was a buzz when the BCB decided to use the Zimbabwe series as a platform for relatively younger players to come out of the shadows of the seniors. The board even opted to rest regular skipper Mahmudullah Riyad and named Nurul Hasan Sohan as the skipper for the T20I series.
Selectors also rested experienced campaigner Mushfiqur Rahim and were without Shakib Al Hasan, who officially took a break from the Zimbabwe tour, forming a new-look team with the hope of changing the nation's T20I fortunes.
Disappointingly, there were hardly any positives to take home when it comes to performance and approach from the Tigers as they went on to lose 2-1.
More importantly, the Bangladesh think-tank took a U-turn from their actual purpose of bringing change to the shortest format and there was once again a visible lack of confidence from the team management.
After injury ruled Sohan out ahead of the third and series-deciding encounter, the board included Mahmudullah as a replacement but surprisingly named Mosaddek Hossain captain for the third game.
Injuries also came as huge setbacks for Bangladesh throughout the tour and the growing list of injured players affected the morale of the team while dismal performances kept selectors in a dilemma when it came to forming a squad for the upcoming Asia Cup and the ICC T20 World Cup later this year.
In the ODIs, the format that the Tigers' favour, the team management was hoping to continue their stranglehold against Zimbabwe. But there was a huge reality check in store as they went on to lose an ODI series against Zimbabwe for the first time in nine years.
Tamim Iqbal and his troops were undone by the fighting approach from the hosts, especially Sikandar Raza who struck hundreds in the first two games and helped the hosts chase down targets of 304 and 291 runs in the first two games respectively.
The Tigers looked helpless in defence of big totals courtesy of a bowling attack that lacked bite along with some poor fielding.
However, Bangladesh did manage to conclude their African safari on a positive note with a convincing 105-run win in the third and final ODI to regain some confidence against a spirited Zimbabwean side who were clearly the better unit in the series.