A lot has changed over the past week in Bangladesh cricket. The Tigers suddenly found themselves without their regular ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal after he made a shocking retirement announcement (later he decided to withdraw it and took a 1.5 months break) a day after the first match of the three-match ODI series against Afghanistan in Chattogram.
Bangladesh were already 0-1 down courtesy of their 17-run defeat in the series opener where batters demonstrated a woeful performance and Liton Das was made interim skipper before the second game.
Bangladesh batters were mostly at the receiving end and were unable to score even 200 runs in any of those matches after they failed to negate the Afghanistan spin trio – Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi – just like the old times.
During the opening game, this trio bowled 24 overs and conceded only 69 runs at an economy rate of 2.88 and took five Bangladeshi wickets including the likes of Liton, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Afif Hossain and Mushfiqur Rahim.
In the second game, they took six wickets while bowling 25 overs and conceded 97 runs at an economy rate of 3.88. Five out of Bangladesh’s top eight batsmen in the game lost their wickets to them.
Bangladesh are set to play two major tournaments – Asia Cup and World Cup – in the coming months, despite their poor batting show, assistant coach Nic Pothas has found a ‘bright side’ from the debacle.
Terming the Afghanistan spin-attack ‘best’ in the world, Pothas claimed that facing the top-ranked spinners in the series will help them to prepare well in the upcoming global tournaments.
“I think if we are honest, they have the best spin attack in the world. That’s just a fact. These three guys have played a lot of white-ball cricket around the world. It is a captain’s dream where each one does his job whenever given the ball,” Pothas told reporters during a press conference in Chattogram on Monday.
“Technically, the challenge that they have presented, is a huge advantage to us. It will make us better. If you can face this level of spin, you can face anybody.
“They keep coming at us. No other team in the world has three spinners of this quality that keep coming at you all the time. It is very beneficial for our team.
“They are ranked below us, but two of those spinners are among the top three spinners in the world. We are looking at it with a very positive outlook,” he added.
Pothas also remembered his days with Mujeeb at Middlesex where he found it hard to pick the mysterious off-spinner from the back.
“I think it is not a question of whether we struggled. It is a question of how the world struggles to pick them,” he said.
“I had Mujeeb with me at Middlesex. Even after I was talking to him as a wicketkeeper, I struggled to pick him from behind. Could everyone pick Shane Warne, Muralitharan? That’s why they are the best in the world.
“That’s why every competition in the world puts up so much money for mystery spin. Question is, what are we going to do about it, and how is it going to make us better?” he concluded.
The last words from Pothas have actually been spoken again and again by many from the Bangladesh team over the years but when it comes to finding a solution, there is always one big sigh of disappointment.