Among Bangladesh’s several errors, Shakib Al Hasan rued Mahedi Hasan‘s no-balls the most in their two-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka that knocked them out of the Asia Cup.
Mahedi’s first no-ball allowed Kusal Mendis, who was reprieved on four occasions, to bat beyond the seventh over. Kusal, who opened the innings, top scored with a 37-ball 60 to lay the foundation for Sri Lanka’s chase of 184.
His second no-ball came in the last over when Sri Lanka needed three runs off four deliveries. In a somewhat tragicomical turn of events, as soon as Asitha Fernando and Maheesh Theekshana ran two, they heard the buzzer that pointed to Mahedi’s no-ball. Soon enough, the giant screens flashed the replay and Bangladesh knew their fate had been sealed. This incident was particularly disappointing for Shakib as he reflected on the team’s performance under pressure, and their early exit from the competition.
“No captain wants no-balls from their team,” Shakib said. “It is a big crime when a spinner bowls a no-ball. We bowled a lot of wides and no-balls today. We were not disciplined. We didn’t know what to do when we were under pressure. We knew Kusal (Mendis) plays spin really well, so if we could get him early, it would have set platform for our spinners to come into the game.
“But till he was there, it was hard for our spinners to bowl. He was dropped on two, and then when he was out, it was a no-ball. The spinner bowling a no-ball is a big no-no. Our spinners usually don’t bowl no-balls, but today it was proven that we break down under pressure. We are losing in crunch moments. If we won 50% of the close matches, we would have a better record in this format.”
What also hurt Bangladesh was T20I debutant Ebadot Hossain‘s inconsistency in his final two overs, which went for 38. The penultimate over of the chase, especially, turned the tide Sri Lanka’s way as he conceded 17, including a no-ball and a wide. This undid all his earlier good work; at the end of his first two overs, he had unreal figures of 3 for 13.
“Ebadot has never played a pressure game like this,” Shakib said. “He has a lot to understand. He brought us into the game after his first two overs. We thought it was going to be his day. You expect a bowler to have good rhythm and be positive when he has taken three wickets in his first two overs. It wasn’t to be. He can learn a lot from this game.
“Our plan was to get their batsmen out. That’s exactly what we did. They needed 25 or 26  in the last two overs. Eight [seven] wickets down, you back your main bowlers to defend those runs against their tail.”
Looking ahead to the T20 World Cup, Shakib underlined the importance of having to identify the best fast bowlers. “This was an eye-opener to see how we bowl in pressure situations,” he said. “You can expect good 10-12 overs of fast bowling on this type of pitch. Only those who can deliver will be in the team.
“It is simple math. We looked at four fast bowlers here, and we will look at more in the tri-series in New Zealand so that we have a clearer idea who can do well in Australia.”
Shakib also spoke of the few positives from the tournament. Like how the move to bump up Mehidy Hasan Miraz to open the innings, in his first T20I in nearly four years, worked.
Mehidy responded with a 26-ball 38, hitting two fours and as many sixes. Shakib said this was something they had contemplated against Afghanistan too, before going with regulars Mohammad Naim and Anamul Haque.
“He has done well in our domestic tournaments, so we had faith in him,” Shakib said of Mehidy’s promotion. “Even in the first game, he was in the mix to bat in the top order. He didn’t play the first game. He showed his character today. He wasn’t nervous. He was playing after [more than] three years, so it wasn’t easy for him. You have to give him a lot of credit, the way he handled the pressure in the first six overs.”
Shakib also asked for a bit of patience from everyone as his team tries to work out plans going into the T20 World Cup. For starters, he said, he was encouraged by the team’s attitude and body language.
“I have returned to T20I captaincy with these two matches. We have a lot in mind when we make a new beginning. Our planning started with the game against Afghanistan, so there will be right and wrong.
“We have a plan in place. We want to reach a goal slowly. But if you notice our attitude and body language in these two games, despite the poor approach in batting in the first game, I think we have improved from our last three or four series.”