Bangladesh's short tour of India may be over but they barely have any time to relax. They have returned home and will probably get a week-long break before beginning their camp for the Sri Lanka series set to begin in the first week of March. Unlike the India series however, this is going to include matches in all three formats.
With barely any time remaining, it is important that Bangladesh work on rectifying the mistakes made during the tour of India as soon as possible. The India series, truth be told, was a mixed bag. There were a couple of frustrating performances and then there were brilliant knocks from the likes of Mushfiqur Rahim and Mehedi Hasan Miraz which helped the visitors stand up for themselves. The following are the main highlights from the tour:
One of the most obvious aspects that Bangladesh missed on this tour was support from their top order. You cannot always depend on Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim. Bangladesh need the likes of Tamim Iqbal, Mominul Haque and Soumya Sarkar to not just score half-centuries, but to negotiate the opening hour of a Test session successfully and score big. One feels that the top order, which has generally been Bangladesh's major strength, missed out on such a good batting track in Hyderabad. It was Tamim's knock that helped Bangladesh beat England in Bangladesh in some very trying conditions and if the openers can provide the momentum, things can only get better for Bangladesh.
The other aspect that the team management will most likely focus on is the need for a wicketkeeper in the team. It was clear from the last Test that Mushfiqur is having trouble performing his three roles of captain, wicketkeeper and batsman. There are some options, but employing them would mean changing Bangladesh's batting order and it will be interesting to see how the Bangladesh team react to this.
The reverse swing aspect is another issue that the management will need to address. All three Indian pacers were capable of reversing the ball and they all troubled the Bangladesh batsmen. Bangladesh are going to play a number of Tests this year and any opposing team who would have seen this series will definitely try to expose this shortcoming.
With regards to Bangladesh's bowling, the key thing to do would be to help these bowlers grow in confidence. Taskin Ahmed, Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Kamrul Islam Rabbi all have plenty of talent, but they lack Test experience. They will only get better as they keep playing more games and not just Test games, but four-day matches as well.
It is illogical to expect anyone, even Mustafizur Rahman, to run through the opposition if he does not have any experience. Bangladesh's bowling needs time and it will be important for the team management to support them.
There weren't too many performers for Bangladesh. Mushfiqur Rahim may have missed a couple of opportunities behind the stumps -- which was twice as frustrating considering that the match was taking place on a placid wicket -- but with the bat he was near-flawless.
He came out with a mission and he was successful at that. He faced the most balls, even more than Virat Kohli, in the first innings of the Test and showed how patient he can be. The fact that five of Mushfiqur's centuries have come in five venues goes on to show just how technically solid he is. It will be very crucial for Bangladesh that he stays in form throughout the year.
Bangladesh's top order would have to be the major disappointment. On a good batting track, they needed to take the lead and not put the pressure on the middle order. Aside from the top order, Sabbir Rahman disappointed as well. That Sabbir has the potential of becoming one of Bangladesh's best batsman is a given, however he needs to keep his focus. He had done well on turning tracks in Chittagong and Dhaka and had almost taken Bangladesh home in the first Tests against Chittagong, but at the moment he seems to be in two minds while playing strokes. He needs to make the confusion disappear.
THE BREAKOUT PERFORMER
Mehedi Hasan Miraz had a batting average below 3 going into the Test and all of a sudden he scored a brilliant half-century to support his captain. It was because of the partnership between these two that Virat Kohli decided against taking the follow-on. With so many games coming up, it will be a boon for Bangladesh if Mehedi manages to continue his form. The team management has waited a long time for him to show his batting prowess and this series showed a glimpse of his capabilities. If he does begin to perform regularly, the Bangladesh will be a lot calmer with regards to their tail and the captain will find it a lot easier to make team combinations.