Mortaza wants batsmen to emulate 'big teams'

Mashrafe Mortaza reacts in the field AFP

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza wants his batsmen to continue converting starts into big scores, like how "big teams do", in order to push totals higher. Tamim Iqbal's 127 played a major role in Bangladesh reaching their second highest ODI total, 324 for 5, in the first match in Dambulla.

Tamim supported Sabbir Rahman and Shakib Al Hasan who made rapid half-centuries. They have lost only once out of ten occasions in which they have scored more than 300 runs.

Bangladesh's best batsmen, though, have a poor conversion rate. Tamim has scored eight ODI hundreds from 42 50-plus scores in his career. Shakib has six hundreds and 33 fifties, while Mushfiqur Rahim has four hundreds and 23 fifties.

Among the younger players, Soumya Sarkar has scored one century and four fifties in his 21 ODIs. In ten of those innings, he has scored between 20 and 40. Sabbir meanwhile hasn't struck a century in 33 ODIs, scoring just four fifties.

"[Our strength playing abroad] has to be our batting," Mashrafe said. "We wanted our batsmen to cross the 50 to 70-run mark and get a big score. It was a learning curve for us. Sabbir missed out in the last game but Tamim got to a big hundred. It makes winning easier when someone does that.

"It is a good lesson for us. The batsmen should learn how to convert 50-60 into a hundred, which is what big teams do. We have to learn this continuously, and ensure that we keep doing this. Finishing is also an important matter, which has helped us get to that score."

Mashrafe said they are applying some of the lessons they learned from New Zealand, where they pushed the home side in the second and third ODIs with good starts but couldn't quite win games.

"After the England ODI series which was our last ODI series at home, I said that the different challenge will start in New Zealand," Mashrafe said. "But we couldn't win there, despite creating opportunities.

"We won the second Test and the first ODI here. We will improve slowly. Other teams also took time to win abroad. New Zealand was difficult for us but that experience will work for us here," he said.

Bangladesh are mulling over a different combination in the second ODI, considering how much grass was left on the Dambulla pitch on the eve of the game. Sri Lanka have also added two pace bowlers to their squad.

"I think the wicket will be good for batting," Mashrafe said. "In the sub-continent you have to keep a lot of grass to make a wicket that suits the fast bowlers. We will have a look at the grass tomorrow, and whether they have watered it or not. We also have to find out if the wicket ends up as soft or hard.

"We have always broken our winning combination against India and South Africa in 2015. The wicket tomorrow may be different, so we have to keep that in mind," he said.