Bangladesh’s batting struggles continued as they suffered an 86-run defeat against New Zealand in the second ODI in Dhaka. While the loss was disappointing, the return of Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah to the squad was encouraging. Both players looked sharp, although they couldn’t convert their starts into big scores. Mahmudullah top-scored with 49 before being dismissed while attempting a lap-sweep, while Tamim was out for 44 after gloving a delivery.
Mahmudullah was making his first ODI appearance since early March, when he was part of the squad for the series against England. Although the selectors had initially stated that he was being rested, it became evident over the next six months that they were moving on from him. However, with the World Cup approaching and Bangladesh’s batting proving inconsistent, the selectors decided to give Mahmudullah another chance ahead of the major tournament in India.
Tamim, on the other hand, had missed most of the Afghanistan series in July due to his retirement U-turn. He also sat out the Asia Cup due to a long-standing back injury. Tamim admitted that his return to action was nerve-wracking, especially with the bat. However, once he found his timing and played a few shots, he felt more comfortable.
“I was nervous today. I would be lying if I said it was just another game,” Tamim said. “Whatever has happened in the last couple of months, I had nerves going out to bat. But after the first over, it came down. It was nice to hit the balls again. I think it was good to be out there, but there’s certainly still a lot of discomfort in my back. The physios are trying to overcome it.”
Mahmudullah also took some time to settle in, but he played aggressively despite the wickets falling at the other end. Tamim praised Mahmudullah’s intent and felt that he didn’t look like a player who had been out of the team for six or seven months. He also commended Mahmudullah’s fielding performance.
Reflecting on the match, Tamim believed that Bangladesh could have limited New Zealand to a lower total of around 200 or 210. He emphasized that the pitch was suitable for chasing down the target of 255 runs. He urged the team to address their recurring top-order collapses, noting that in only one of the last seven innings had Bangladesh gone past 100 runs before losing four wickets.
“This run chase was gettable on this wicket. I think we could have restricted them around 210-215. But this was a good wicket. I don’t think we got out to really good deliveries,” Tamim said. “We have to look into losing four wickets early very seriously going into the World Cup. We can’t win a lot of games if we lose four or five wickets quickly. We lost early wickets but there were good patches today. But to win any game, you have to stop this collapse. We have to look to minimize back-to-back wickets. The coach and captain aren’t the only ones in charge of this; the responsibility is among all of us.”