Bangladesh's batsmen, led by Mushfiqur Rahim, have had their moments, but the bowlers have underwhelmed. So said stand-in coach Courtney Walsh on the eve of his side's must-win encounter against Sri Lanka. In their previous match, Bangladesh had conceded 79 runs in a definitive six-over period against India. Even in the game they won, they conceded 214.
There has been one bright spark in their attack, however, and this time it is not the young left-armer with the magic wrists. It is Rubel Hossain who has been Bangladesh's best, maintaining an economy of 8.22 in three matches. Along the way, he has picked up four wickets. One of those was the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan, who was bowled by perhaps the ball of the tournament so far: a late-swinging, yorker that zipped past Dhawan's outside edge and flattened middle stump.
"Rubel has been very consistent," Walsh said. "If the other guys stepped up, it would give us a little more cushion. I would be lying if I said I thought we bowled well. We have bowled okay, but not as well as we can. The improvement is coming, but not as quickly as we would like. If we can put it all together, it will be a big plus for us in Friday's game."
"Spinners also have not been as spot-on as we like them to be. They have had good patches. But if everyone did their bit, it will give us a very good chance."
Among those who have under-performed at the Nidahas Trophy has been Mustafizur Rahman, whose 12 overs have gone at 9.75 runs apiece, though he has also taken four wickets in the competition. His cutters have been only sporadically effective on Khettarama decks that have atypically failed to reward revolutions on the ball.
Friday's virtual semi-final will be played on a fresh pitch, which means that seam and swing may be more reliable fast-bowling weapons than cutters. "Someone like Mustafizur Rahman having a good game will help us tremendously," Walsh said. "I am hoping he can step up to the plate in this crucial game. I know he can. He had some fantastic games in PSL so it is a case of turning it around here. One game can make a difference. It could be his game, or another bowler's game, but we're hoping that he comes good."
The attack would appear to have been bolstered with news that Shakib Al Hasan is joining the team ahead of this game, but Walsh was reluctant to suggest Shakib is a certainty for the playing XI. Though he will be with the team in the approach to the game, Shakib is expected to take a fitness test for his injured finger that has kept him out since mid-January.
"He is on his way. Like any other player he will be assessed. If he is fit, someone of his class and calibre will be considered to play."