On the boundary tally, the teams were neck and neck. Bangladesh hit 12 fours to go with their three sixes; India 13 fours and three sixes. Where Bangladesh let themselves down, however, was when it came to picking the gaps – their 43 singles put in the shade by India’s 58. All told, 56% of the deliveries Bangladesh faced were dot balls, as batsmen repeatedly attempted to hit boundaries, and routinely collected nothing but fresh air. India’s dot-ball percentage was only 32%, and there, Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah felt, was where the game was decided.
“We probably played more than 50 dot balls today [68, to be exact], and when that happens you create pressure on individual batsmen,” he said. “I played seven dot balls and got out cheaply. It’s hard to get going if you’re relying so much on boundaries. If you can rotate the strike and score boundaries at the same time, it will release the pressure on the batsmen.”
Of particular concern were the middle overs. Bangladesh were not terribly placed after the Powerplay, having hit 44 for 2 from the first six overs. But between overs 7 and 12 – while top order batsmen were still at the crease – they scored four runs or fewer in four separate overs, and the innings lost steam. There would be a brief upsurge while Liton Das and Sabbir Rahman batted together, but with so much ground to make up they were forced to attempt high-risk strokes.
“We often lose our rhythm when batting in the middle overs,” Mahmudullah said. “When boundaries weren’t coming, we struggled to take ones and twos. Then we gave away our wickets. I think the blame goes to our batsmen, particularly on this wicket. especially when you’re playing with five bowlers and six batters, obviously you need to do something. Someone has to step up.”
This six-wicket loss to India is Bangladesh’s fifth consecutive defeat in T20s, and their 13th in their last 14 matches. They have been consistently woeful in this format since mid-2016, for all their gains in Tests and ODI cricket. In these last five matches, Bangladesh have failed to breach 150 three times.
“We need to be fearless – not thinking about our doubts,” Mahmudullah said. “Otherwise no point playing these games. We’ve been discussing that we need to express ourselves, whatever happens. T20 is about taking those calculated risks.”