Bangladesh were 102 for 0 in the third ODI in Nelson. And then they were 179 for 7, their eighth batting collapse in ten months leading to a series whitewash in New Zealand. Two days ago, they had lost 9 for 79 in a chase, after getting to 105 for 1. 2016 has been the year of the collapse and the Bangladesh batsmen are under scrutiny.
The first disintegration of the year, against India in the World T20, is considered to the the root of the problem. But while Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah played needless slogs with only two runs needed for a momentous victory in Bangalore, Bangladesh had six months to debrief and move on.
They haven’t done so and, through seven slides since September, a collective slump is evident.
In 2015, considered Bangladesh’s best year in ODIs, the batting group performed exceedingly well. Mushfiqur Rahim and Soumya Sarkar averaged more than 50, while Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah scored two hundreds each. Five batsmen had 90-plus strike rates and Shakib Al Hasan, who had few chances to play long innings, made 421 runs at a strike rate of 89.95.
This year, however, Soumya has made just 32 runs in four innings. Mushfiqur was finding some form in the first ODI in Christchurch but a hamstring injury cut short his tour.
Tamim has scored at a slower strike rate compared to 2015, though he does average 45 for the year. Imrul Kayes hasn’t played a match-winning knock in 2016, but has been a crucial part of matches where Bangladesh have won.
Sabbir Rahman, an ODI revelation in 2015, hasn’t done justice at No. 3 by getting out after playing cameos. Mahmudullah’s four single-digit scores is his first slump since he emerged from a dry spell that spanned from October 2013 to November 2014. Shakib’s batting has declined slightly in quality of stroke-making, which has reduced his effectiveness in the middle order.
Of the three newcomers, Mosaddek Hossain has a lot to prove: he hasn’t been able to perform in pressure situations in ODIs like he does in domestic cricket. While Nurul Hasan has picked up things up quickly, at this stage Tanbir Hayder looks unprepared for international cricket.
Batting collapses can become regular when several batsmen are stagnating or declining in form. The problem isn’t limited to playing in unfamiliar conditions, or to batting first. Bangladesh have even won three games despite a batting collapse.
Their collapse against Afghanistan was in their first international match in sic months, so it was put down to rustiness. When it happened in the next game, the bowlers nearly salvaged victory. They lost 6 for 67 in the third ODI against Afghanistan as well, but won it.
The cracks had appeared but were papered over by two wins. When England took 6 for 17after Imrul and Shakib had added 118 runs for the fifth wicket, however, Mirpur felt like a funeral home.
Even in the Mirpur Test against England later in October, Bangladesh lost 9 for 49 in the first innings after Tamim and Mominul Haque had given them a solid start. Any concern about the batting, though, was drowned in the euphoria of a historic victory.
The two matches in Nelson took the number of collapses in 2016 level with the eight in 2014, which was one of Bangladesh’s worst years in recent memory. It had cost Shane Jurgensen the head coach’s job and Mushfiqur Rahim the limited-overs captaincy.
It is hard to predict if heads will roll this time. The coach Chandika Hathurusingha is the most influential member of the team management, and Mashrafe Mortaza is a regular performer with ball and bat, and his captaincy isn’t the problem.
If previous batting failures are any indication, the Bangladesh batsmen tend to get overconfident when given too much freedom. But this method of Hathurusingha’s has done wonders for them. Tamim, Mahmudullah and Sabbir have thrived when given the licence to bat their way. They do need to temper it with some discipline though – perhaps a resolution for 2017.
Bangladesh’s collapses in 2016
3 for 0 chasing v Ind, Bangalore T20
7 for 62 batting first v Afg, Dhaka ODI
7 for 54 batting first v Afg, Dhaka ODI
6 for 67 batting first v Afg, Dhaka ODI
6 for 17 chasing v Eng, Dhaka ODI
9 for 49, 1st innings v Eng, Mirpur Test
9 for 79 chasing v NZ, Nelson ODI
7 for 77 batting first v NZ, Nelson ODI