In all of this, the Bangladesh players stood around like they had absolutely no control over what was happening in the middle. It would have been made no difference to Kohli’s concentration but Bangladesh didn’t even try to slow down the game. Not even the odd by-play, like the bowler stopping in his stride. Perhaps even a cheeky wide when Kohli was getting close to his milestone would have shown that they were still capable of affecting this match instead of what actually happened, where it looked like they were just waiting for the ordeal to end.
“We made our best start, adding 93 runs for the opening stand. But we couldn’t bat well in the middle overs. It is our responsibility to bat well. I bat at No. 3, which is an important position. We had couple of soft dismissals. It was a good wicket but the batters didn’t take responsibility. We have made big scores before too. If Litton and Tanzid batted for longer, it would have helped Mushy [Mushfiqur Rarhim] bhai or [Mahmudullah] Riyad bhai later in the innings.”
Shanto has scored two of Bangladesh’s four ODI hundreds this year, and since he and Mehidy Hasan Miraz struck centuries against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup, they have gone nine innings without a three-figure score.
“Nobody is satisfied scoring 50, 70 or 100, not the players or the coaching staff, unless it helps the team,” Shanto said. “Every batter is talking about it. Tanzid and Litton aren’t satisfied with their knocks. Big players convert these starts into 100s or 150s. We are all concerned, and we are working on it.”
Bangladesh have put a lot of faith in Tanzid, backing him through a series of low scores since he made his debut last month. Shanto took pride in the way the team was able to bring the best out of one of their young players and hoped that he kicks on from here. “Tanzid played really well but we expect better knocks from him. I hope he improves on it in the next matches. Every player should be backed like [Tanzid] was. Not half-hearted, but 100%. Tanzid batted well, but we need more from him. If we support him, he can play more such knocks.”
Given Bangladesh need big scores from their batters, it seems strange that they are not letting some of them occupy their preferred spots. Shanto has been shuttled down to No. 4 twice in this World Cup but he typically bats at No. 3. Towhid Hridoy has been pushed down to No. 7 though most of his success has come batting at No. 5. They had an opportunity against India to use Mushfiqur’s experience at No. 4, in the absence of Shakib, but chose not to.
Shato defended the team’s tactics. “Everyone is well aware of their batting positions so they are quite comfortable with it. If they know the plan beforehand, then there’s no difference. Hridoy likes to bat at No. 5. Mushy bhai is scoring runs at No. 6. Riyad bhai is batting well at No. 7. Shakib bhai would have batted at No. 4. I think it was the right batting order.”
With five matches still in hand, Bangladesh remain in semi-final contention. They have also turned things around from tougher positions in the past but it was only after shedding a lot of baggage. In a World Cup campaign, every day adds to the overall pressure of doing well.
Perhaps Shanto’s clear speaking and candid press conference at the end of the Pune defeat was a bright spot. To see him willing to accept responsibility was a breath of fresh air. “We will definitely want to win the next match, every match. We haven’t played at our best yet, especially in our batting. We must be more responsible. There’s a lot left to do in this tournament. It is important to play a good game. It can change our momentum. Nobody knows, we can win the next four or five matches.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84