Liton needs to regain 'dented self-belief'
With the World Cup just around the corner, the three-match ODI series against New Zealand was expected to be an ideal platform for the vulnerable Bangladesh top-order to reassess its focus and gain confidence.
The return of Tamim Iqbal at the top will surely give a lot of confidence to the team management and the left-handed batter looked good during a 58-ball 44 in the second ODI against New Zealand yesterday.
What will cause a lot of concern for the team management, though, is the form of stand-in captain Liton Das. The wicketkeeper-batter is one of the most vital components in Bangladesh's top-order and a batter who could make a difference in the flagship event.
However, the 28-year-old has been going through a lean patch in recent times and it was important for him to return to the groove. The series against New Zealand at home would have been an ideal platform for Liton to get amongst the runs, but he failed to make another opportunity count.
A prolific run-getter for the Tigers in the last year with 338 runs in 17 innings at an average of 24.14, Liton has seen runs dry up this year. And the run-drought continued for the right-hander in Mirpur yesterday where he was dismissed for just six runs off 16 deliveries.
Chasing a competitive target of 255, the Tigers required a steady start on a tricky Mirpur surface. Liton looked uncomfortable right from the start of his innings and was unable to find rhythm, eventually handing a catch at third-man region while trying a slash to a wide delivery from pacer Kyle Jamieson.
"I think it is a concern, not because he is not able to score runs but I think he lacks confidence. He is lacking the confidence of a top-order batter who needs to play the moving deliveries. Even when he played the first ball today (yesterday), he looked very slow and it seems like he is doubting his own game. He looks lost and doesn't know what to do and maybe he is trying different things in different ways," prominent coach Nazmul Abedeen Fahim told The Daily Star during the Bangladesh innings.
The added responsibility of leading the team in absence of regular skipper Shakib Al Hasan may have also made things difficult for Liton, according to Fahim.
"This could be a factor (captaincy adding pressure). You know it makes you think differently when you play as a normal player compared to when you play as a captain, but that shouldn't be the case," he said.
With just over two weeks before the start of Bangladesh's World Cup campaign, time is ticking for Liton to return to form. According to Fahim, it is important for the wicketkeeper-batter to spend time in the middle to regain confidence.
"There's no short cut. He needs to feels that he is able to middle the ball; it's about that good feeling. It's a matter of self-belief and I think that area has been dented. He needs to score runs and spend time in the middle, no matter where he plays," the veteran coach added.