cricket:image:1440330 [900x506]
cricket:image:1440330 [900x506] (Credit: Associated Press)

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Bangladesh's two most high-profile cricketers, Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, were left disappointed with the team's lack of intent against India in their T20 World Cup 2024 Super Eight game in Antigua.

Shakib made 11 off seven balls having arrived at the crease in the 12th over with Bangladesh needing 121 runs at 14.23 per over. He rued the team's lack of fight in the business end of the tournament as they made below-par scores of 140 for 8 and 146 for 8 against Australia and India respectively. The Bangladesh top order's continued poor form hasn't improved even on the Antigua pitches where batting is seemingly easier than on most surfaces in this tournament. Shakib said that they couldn't even show their intent of wanting chasing India's 196 runs in this game.

"We have a 50 percent win rate in this World Cup but if we had fought against India and Australia the way we fought against South Africa, we could have called it a good World Cup campaign," Shakib said. "We are short of runs as a batting unit. We made 140 in the last game, 146 today. We should have done better today since we had a target in front of us. We couldn't even show it to people that we were trying [to chase the target] today. I don't think the confidence was there. We have lacked in this area throughout the World Cup.

"You have to bring your A-game against teams like Australia and India. I think we lacked in skill and strength. We couldn't do the basics for longer periods to create pressure. Throughout this World Cup, I don't think we justified ourselves as a batting unit. We are capable of scoring big runs. We were well short of par scores like 175-185 in the last two games, both played on good wickets. Maybe India scored 20 more runs today but we have to show the intent from the start of the innings. I don't think it was there."

Tamim, in his capacity as an expert for ESPNcricinfo, said after the match that Bangladesh's lack of intent with the bat surprised him against India. "[Najmul Hossain Shanto, Bangladesh's captain] said that he should have finished the game but Bangladesh never got close in this contest. I didn't understand why he would say that. Bangladesh's batting has disappointed in this whole tournament. The think-tank really needs to think about how they will go from here on.

"When your batters are scoring runs, you are confident that your batting line-up can chase down a total like 160 or 170. When you know that your batting is struggling, it surprised me that [Bangladesh] decided to bowl first. Couple of their decisions have surprised me in this game. Fingers will be pointed."

Tamim added that the Bangladesh team management's decision to leave out Taskin Ahmed against India, bringing in the extra batter in Jaker Ali, left him surprised. Taskin had gone for some runs against Australia, but he is the team's vice-captain, and someone looked upon as the bowling attack leader.

"I was very surprised why Taskin didn't play. Both the spinners went for plenty of runs. There was a time when India were in a bit of bother losing back-to-back wickets to Tanzim [Hasan Sakib]. If Taskin was there as an extra fast bowler, Bangladesh could have attacked India more. We know about Shivam Dube's short-ball weakness. Taskin had the pace to use those tactics against him."

Tamim also felt that not giving the new ball to Mustafizur Rahman was a missed opportunity to take on Rohit Sharma's talked-about weakness against left-arm pace, while he also felt that Tanzim could have been allowed to continue with the new ball because he was handling it well in the previous matches.

"Everyone is talking about Rohit Sharma having a little weakness against left-arm fast bowling. It plays on the player's mind when he is taking on a similar bowler in the game. Bangladesh had an opportunity to start with the left-arm seamer, just to have a look. India might have scored 196, but Rohit's start was very important for India. That's how momentum comes.

"Tanzim did well with the new ball in the previous matches. He didn't get the new ball today. Why do you have to change the whole setup for somebody else and even when someone is doing exceptionally well?"

Dropping Taskin was mainly to boost the flagging batting line-up. It has been problematic for a long time, but since coming to North America last month, the top-order has caved against most bowling attacks. Shakib said that Bangladesh has a general batting tendency to do better on tricky wickets rather than on good batting pitches.

"We don't really do well when we play on flat wickets that produce 180-200 runs," Shakib said. "We play better on wickets that produce 130-150 runs. That's what we are familiar with. Apart from one game in BPL this year, our local batters haven't really chased big runs. It remains our weakness."

Tamim further explained that the Bangladesh batters aren't used to good batting wickets for many years. He said that they play on slow and low surfaces back home where they play most of their cricket, so when they encounter good ones in ICC tournaments, they get caught out not knowing what to do.

"Bangladesh [usually] play in difficult wicket for batters. They also can't start scoring runs freely when you put them in a very good wicket. You need to know how to score runs even on a good wicket. You need to know your limitations on which shots to play. I think there should be a long-term plan where Bangladesh should play on good wickets. They don't get it in Mirpur."

Tamim said that even their marquee T20 tournament, the Bangladesh Premier League, failed to produce exciting cricket due to the nature of the pitches in the country. He said that the win-first (at home) nature of Bangladesh cricket has left the batters in the lurch.

He suggested being patient with better pitches so that the batters can improve while the bowlers also pick up how to bowl on good batting surfaces.

"BPL is a fantastic tournament but we couldn't get wickets that excited the crowds. The last two years, scores have been higher. Teams are chasing 170-180, but we are so result-oriented in Bangladesh. If we have a very good wicket in the first game, the moment we lose that game, people are trying to make a spin-friendly track. I think not only players and coaches, the board also has to come out of that mentality. Let us lose for another six months, but let's prepare wickets where bowlers and batters can learn. I think this is the only way forward for Bangladesh cricket."