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Bangladesh batsmen replicate last-over scenarios under McKenzie watch

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Replicating match situations during training sessions may not be easy, but Bangladesh batsmen have attempted to structure their Asia Cup preparations around final-over scenarios in limited-overs cricket. Mashrafe Mortaza, Mehidy Hasan, Mosaddek Hossain and Ariful Haque were among several batsmen who batted to set fields at the Shere Bangla National Stadium on Monday, simulating last-over situations with a view to out-think bowlers in the tournament proper.

Ariful, who earned his maiden ODI call-up, was given several opportunities to understand his role, which he did with considerable success during the 2017 BPL. Mashrafe, Mehidy and Mosaddek are also likely to bat during the slog overs, and hence need to train themselves for these tricky phases.

Neil McKenzie, Bangladesh’s batting consultant, explained that the scenario practice not only enlivens the training session, but also gives the younger players, including bowlers, a chance to prepare themselves for more challenging occasions during an official match.

“I think it is just about preparation and putting the guys under a lot of pressure in a training session,” McKenzie said. “A lot of the times you can practice, go through the motions and there’s nothing on it. You get caught on the boundary and nothing really happens. So the coach Steve Rhodes [head coach] has put them under pressure. Most of the ODI sides in the world are quite similar so it comes down to the last ball or the last over.

“The younger guys, after being in these situations, will know better in bigger occasions. It is a good exercise for the bowlers, see his field setting, what’s his best ball. It is for the players to report back and get their thinking on. They know each other, so they know a guy is strong over covers or against the short ball.”

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McKenzie said that Bangladeshi batsmen can’t be expected to muscle balls like West Indians, but they can bring their own skills to the fore whenever they have to hit big. Bangladesh have been among the teams with low run rates (6.92) in the last 10 overs since April 2015 whereas teams like England (8.32), South Africa (8.08) and Pakistan (7.78) have done significantly better. McKenzie said that an impressive big-hitter like Mahmudullah could bring power to the slog overs.

“Technically you can get into better positions. We are not going to be competing against the West Indians, the way they hit the ball,” he said. “But we can be very competitive in our skilled hitting, targeting the four inner-ring guys, going over cover, point, midwicket and 45 degrees (fine leg). There are some big hitters in the side. [Mahmudullah] Riyad just got 28 off 11 balls in the CPL. Technically you can become a better hitter, commit to a better position to hit,” he said.

McKenzie, who was appointed the batting consultant during Bangladesh’s tour of the West Indies in July, said he wanted to gain the trust of the Bangladesh batsmen in order to bring the best out of them.

“It is more about getting to know the guy and gaining the trust. Even if I am no longer in the system, they can call me and send me some footage to chat about it. It is not my way, it is the players’ way.”

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