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Experience matters, performance does too

Staff Correspondent
06 Dec 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 05 Dec 2022 22:58:31
Experience matters, performance does too

The first One-Day International between Bangladesh and India saw both sides of the coin for the Bangladesh veterans as Shakib Al Hasan starred although all that good was almost spoilt by the other two – Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad.

The duo, infamously coupled with Bangladesh’s horrid one-run defeat against India in the 2016 T20 World Cup, put the Tigers under the guillotine on Sunday before Mehidy Hasan Miraz bailed them out.

The experienced campaigners played 80 balls combined, which yielded only 32 runs. None of them managed a boundary, and their excruciating partnership of 33 runs took 69 balls out of a chase that did not look challenging even when Liton Das and Shakib Al Hasan were batting.

While it may seem like an isolated performance on a difficult pitch, the whole year has seen them struggle in white-ball cricket.

In Twenty20 Internationals, Mushfiq retired after the Asia Cup, making the national selectors’ life easier ahead of the World Cup while Mahmudullah was axed from the format as both captain and player.

Throughout this year, these two have failed to leave an impact in ODIs. Mushfiq has scored 211 runs in nine innings this year, with an average of 26.37 and a strike rate of 74.29, both a downgrade compared to his career average.

The statistical scene is different for Mahmudullah Riyad though. A blind look at the statistics might show him having a successful year with 313 runs in 11 innings at an average of 52.16, but that is why stats are often deceiving.

The 36-year-old has a strike rate of only 66.59 this year, and his apparently brilliant average arrives at the scene only because of the five times he stayed unbeaten. Among those undefeated knocks, he scored over run-a-ball only once.

His five unbeaten knocks are- six off nine balls and 29 off 53 balls against Afghanistan, 41 off 69 balls against West Indies, alongside 20 off 12 balls and 84 off 80 balls against Zimbabwe.

But more than what the numbers suggest, the problem lies deeper. The batter, who was lauded for his beauty with the bat and effectiveness on the field, has seemingly lost his reflex; and every time he is in the middle to bat, Mahmudullah looks like a fish out of water as he struggles to time the ball. In the first ODI, the delivery that got him was just a full-length delivery, but the batter almost fell over trying to get some bat on it.

A similar problem has been evident in Mushfiq’s batting despite being regarded as the most technically solid batter in the country. His dismissal on Sunday posed questions about that as he tried to guide a delivery coming inside down to third-man but only managed to drag it onto his stumps.

Bangladesh don’t have even a year left for the 2023 ODI World Cup, but two of their most experienced players finding it hard to find ground under their feet is concerning.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board President suggested that their World Cup preparations would only start after this series, and that might be another lifeline for the duo to find some form under their belt.

Or else, the question of whether experience matters more than performance will keep coming, and there’s no other way to answer those but the bat.