So it is a three-nil whitewash at the hands of the Black Caps on their home turf. And the result was not unexpected when the Tigers embarked on their first trip down under after a gap of five years. However, there were expectations that this new brand of Tigers would be competitive this time around. They were competitive in the context that they created an opportunity, especially in the last two games at the Saxton Oval in the form of two good partnerships and with a commanding bowling performance in the second ODI when they restricted their opponents to a total they should have chased down on the back of a 75-run second-wicket partnership.
But the crux of the problem laid somewhere else and the first and foremost reason is the absence of Mushfiqur Rahim due to injury in the last two games. His absence actually upset the balance of the team as it is his presence deep in the middle-order which provides a bridge between the top and the lower half. And that was completely missing in the experimental side full of back-up players like Tanbir Hayder, Mosaddek Hossain and Nurul Hasan.
Tanbir was very disappointing with the bat in the two matches he played. He was also extremely lucky with his leg-spin in the first game because he bowled at a time when the opposition went onto the defensive. It could have been a disaster for him had Mashrafe not withdrawn him from the attack yesterday after his two overs yielded 20 runs.
Mosaddek might have played well in the shadow of Mushfiqur in the opening game, but lacked that mental maturity when he was left with the demanding task of doing it all alone.
Mushfiqur’s replacement Nurul Hasan really played well and perhaps was the best among the three players who made their one-day debut in the series. But the most disheartening aspect is that Nurul Hasan has not been trusted by the team management and that is why he batted at number seven in the second one-dayer. He was promoted to number six in the third game yesterday and scored a fine 44 off 39 balls. He did not slog and perhaps the right-hander was more comfortable with the tennis ball bounce of the wicket than more established batsmen.
Skipper Mashrafe accepted the fact that the back-up force in the team left a lot to be desired. He also observed that they did not have a replacement for a player like Soumya Sarker, let alone a proven and committed one like Mushfiqur.
The other disheartening aspect is the absence of additional responsibility from the senior players in the team, especially in Mushfiqur’s absence. Mahmudullah was painfully out of touch in the series and scored 0, 1 and 3. Shakib Al Hasan did little to justify his match-winning ability. Tamim Iqbal might have scored a fifty after five games, but he lacked the discipline to carry on till the end. Imrul has done little to improve on his skills when it comes to chasing singles instead of playing dot balls.
The clarity of thinking from the coaching staff was another contributing factor in the recipe for defeats. It was certainly not wise thinking on their part to introduce a leg-spinner in hostile conditions. Besides, Tanbir has never been considered as quality leg-spinner in the domestic circuit. He was also an average lower-order batsman. Mashrafe offered some solace for the leggie yesterday when he said: “It was very tough for him to adjust to the conditions”. Besides, after Mushfiqur got injured the team management should have turned to experience to fill that big void.