Mental barrier still biggest hurdle | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 17, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 17, 2019

Mental barrier still biggest hurdle

I think they [Bangladesh] have got some really good bowlers. Obviously [Mashrafe Bin] Mortaza is a very experienced bowler and he can be quite difficult to get away. But I think if you can put them under pressure, they just have not got that experience to be able to just hold in there for a long period of time.

Martin Guptill 

New Zealand opener

Even before Bangladesh arrived in New Zealand there was talk that adapting to the tough conditions would be the main challenge for the visitors and since then the word 'conditions' has been ingrained into the minds of the Tigers.

It has to be mentioned that the cricketers did not get enough time to rest following the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) as they had to catch long flights almost immediately afterwards. They also only arrived days before the ODI series, which gave them little time to acclimatise to the conditions.

That mental fatigue along with the physical stress from the BPL was evident in all members of the team and they were two of the biggest reasons -- alongside adjusting to the weather, time zone and relatively alien pitch -- for that eight-wicket loss in the first ODI in Napier.

However, during the first ODI the Tigers did at least manage to spend time in the middle and realise the pace, bounce and movement off the pitch after facing the music from the likes of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry.

By the time the team had travelled from Napier to Christchurch, two days before the second ODI, they were faced with even more challenging weather, with heavy winds and a chilly climate.

To make matters worse, rain was forecast for the day of the match and it seemed from the Tigers' body language that they were desperate not to lose the toss as the fear of batting first in overcast conditions began to eat at them mentally.

Compared to the McLean Park in Napier, the Hagley Oval is a far bigger ground and, according to the head groundsman and curator, the pitch was expected to be a true surface with a high possibility of totals over the 300-run mark being posted given the batsmen could negotiate the initial movement.

There is saying in cricket along the lines that no matter how tough conditions in the middle are, you must keep a positive and confident environment in the dressing room so the players remain calm and relaxed.

But perhaps the early morning forecast and overcast conditions before the start of the second ODI were the initial shocks and that was followed by the biggest shock when skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza lost the toss and was asked to bat.

The Kiwis went with a similar bowling attack but it was expected that the Tigers would have a better approach and learn from their mistakes in Napier. However, it was more like a repeat telecast of the first ODI as Bangladesh's top order once again looked clueless with the visitors losing their first six wickets before reaching the hundred mark.

Mohammad Mithun was the only Bangladesh batsman who looked to fight it out in the tough conditions, striking a second consecutive fifty. However, he too would feel that he missed out on a century as the platform was set for a big knock despite the early damage.

Mithun lost his focus after pulling his hamstring while attempting a quick single, but Sabbir also displayed his ability to face quality pace bowling and looked comfortable until his soft dismissal for 43.

But the others, especially senior players like Mushfiqur Rahim, who was playing in his 200th ODI, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah Riyad failed to provide any sort of assurance, failing to take on responsibility when it was required most.

There are no huge technical flaws or inability to face quality seamers, it is a mental barrier over the tough conditions and a lack of belief in backing themselves that has prevented them from coming out of their shell.

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