From their ICC World Cup campaign to the first of the three match ODI series against Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa stadium in Colombo yesterday, Bangladesh’s fast bowling department has continued to be the biggest area of concern.
Much like the World Cup, once again the Tigers’ seamers were unable to pick wickets with the new ball in the absence of regular skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza as Kusal Perera’s blistering fifth ODI ton helped Sri Lanka post a huge total of 314 for eight after electing to bat first.
It was not just the placid Premadasa pitch that allowed the Lankan batsmen to punish the Bangladesh bowlers; there was also a marked dearth in common sense in the likes of Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain when it came to adapting their lines and lengths to the situation and the pitch.
Among the three seamers, it was Shafiul Islam — making a comeback to the ODI team after three years — who performed best as he did provide an early breakthrough with the new ball, removing Avishka Fernando and ending up picking three wickets, but he too went for 62 from nine overs.
Rubel conceded 54 runs from his nine overs after being hammered for 24 runs in his first two overs by Perera while Mustafizur, who picked up two wickets, ended up conceding 75 runs from his 10 overs.
In the World Cup, the Tigers did not bowl back of a length deliveries — which would have been suited to conditions – and instead bowled short or too full but against Sri Lanka, they tried to bowl back-of-a-length on a placid wicket, allowing the batsmen to easily hit them on the up.
The Bangladesh seamers never looked to bowl according to their field and offered enough room for the Lankan batsman to free their arms as there was very little in the wicket to assist the bowlers and there was no evidence of a thing called partnership bowling.
There were many instances yesterday when captain Tamim Iqbal set up a packed off side field with fine leg in the circle, only for the bowlers to then bowl down the leg side and leaking easy runs.
Sri Lanka reached hundred in the 14th over and at one point, courtesy of some brutal hitting by left-hander Perera, they were eyeing a total somewhere near the 350 mark as they reached 200 in the 31st over losing just two wickets.
However, things changed for the Tigers since the departure of the centurion Perera as the bowlers managed to pull down the run rate, with part-timer Soumya Sarkar being particularly effective with his medium pace, picking up a wicket.
In the spin department the Tigers definitely missed the services of Shakib Al Hasan. The team management opted for three off-spinners in Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Mosaddek Hossain and Mahmudullah Riyad, considering the number of left-handers in the Sri Lankan line-up.
Mehedi and Mosaddek both went for over six runs per over but still the Tigers managed to make a comeback in the latter stages of the innings.
Although there were concerns over the Tigers’ death-overs bowling, Mustafizur and Shafiul did a decent job to concede 69 runs from the last 10, which was relatively cheap considering the flying start from the Lankans.
Apart from the wayward bowling display, the Tigers’ fielding and catching also remained below par. Mahmudullah dropped Kusal Mendis on 28 at long off, with Soumya being the aggrieved bowler, despite covering some good ground but the ball popped out of his hands.