Sriram: ‘If we can challenge a team like India, we are not far away’

Sridharan Sriram, Bangladesh’s technical consultant, feels the two close wins over Netherlands and Zimbabwe have made it a satisfactory men’s T20 World Cup campaign for the team, and the five-run loss against India should serve as a lesson.

“It is the best tournament Bangladesh has ever had in T20 World Cup,” he said ahead of their last Super 12s game, against Pakistan in Adelaide on Sunday. “We have never won two games in the Super 12s in the history of Bangladesh cricket. The boys should be proud of themselves.

“I think it is a fresh start. I don’t know what happened in the past. We won two very close games against Netherlands and Zimbabwe. We lost a close game against India, but that happens.”

Despite just two wins from four games, Bangladesh have an outside chance of making the semi-finals, but for that they must beat Pakistan and hope for other results to go their way, including South Africa not getting more than one point against Netherlands.

The India match was a big one, where Bangladesh, at various points, threatened to win, but went down by five runs in the end. It was a “golden opportunity” missed, in Sriram’s opinion.

“At the start of the game [against India], if someone said we will lose to India by five runs, anybody will take it,” Sriram said. “I think we got ourselves an opportunity to beat India. But we were not able to cross the line. The boys gained a lot of confidence by having got so close.

“We have to adapt and learn. There’s no particular format to play T20s. The wickets, conditions dictate everything. There’s no one-size-fits-all in T20 cricket”

Sridharan Sriram on the lack of power-hitters in the Bangladesh ranks

“Everyone was disappointed in the dressing room to have lost by five runs. They realised what a golden opportunity they missed. It is a great learning for them. It gives the team a lot of self-belief that if we can challenge a team like India, we are not far away.”

Chasing India’s 184 for 6, Bangladesh were 17 runs ahead of the DLS par score when the rain came down after seven overs, with Litton Das on 59 from 26 balls. But Litton was run-out after the break, and in a meltdown, Bangladesh lost four wickets in two overs – the 12th and the 13th – and that set them back.

Sriram conceded that the batting was “frantic” in that period – Bangladesh lost six wickets for 40 runs in five-and-a-half overs. “It was quite frantic for that brief 15-20 minutes, which is understandable. The pressure got to the boys with 9.75 runs an over,” he said.

Now, they have Pakistan to tackle.

“We know what challenges Pakistan present. We played them in New Zealand recently. We have to turn up and play our best on the day,” Sriram said. “They are a very good side. We had opportunities in both games that we played against them in New Zealand. We are both aware of each other’s strengths. It will be a great contest tomorrow.”

One of the questions around Bangladesh in T20I cricket has been their inability to play a power game, which is the trend in most parts of the world. To Sriram, however, it’s not the only way to play in T20s.

“In Australia, we don’t need that kind of approach. A powerful West Indies didn’t even qualify, so in Australia your approach needs to be different,” Sriram, who had worked with the Australian team for many years before joining Bangladesh, said. “We have to adapt and learn. There’s no particular format to play T20s. The wickets, conditions dictate everything. There’s no one-size-fits-all in T20 cricket.”

Technically, Sriram’s contract with Bangladesh gets over after the World Cup, which could be as early as Sunday. Bangladesh next play Tests and ODIs against India at home in December, where Russell Domingo is expected to return as the head coach.

“One game at a time, one tournament at a time,” Sriram said of his future. “My goal is now just to finish the World Cup on a good note. I haven’t thought about too far ahead.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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