After a dismal performance against England the pressure is once again on Khaled Mahmud leading the Bangladeshi cricket team. Ever since he took the job soon after the World Cup the public has been asking for Mahmud's blood.
As Khaled Mashud had resigned the BCB was forced to make a change and at the time there were no real candidates. Their top performer and vice-captain, Habibul Bashar was in atrocious form not hitting a run in the World Cup and no real players were in good form. There would be too much pressure on the young shoulders of an Ashraful or Kapali and as things turned out they wouldn't perform anyway. But neither would Mahmud. The two remaining candidates were Khaled Mahmud and Akram Khan. Akram was well past his day and only brought into the side as a replacement for Mashrafe Mortaza. So this meant Mahmud was the captain. He had taken 9 wickets in the World Cup much more than any other Bangladeshi cricketer and had 40-odd one-dayers under his belt.
He did not start his career as captain in style loosing his first game by 200 runs at the hands of India. However throughout the TVS Cup they did improve, whether it was due to Mahmud it is unknown but they performed much better than in the World Cup. Mahmud had improved with the bat 97 runs at 24.25, which was second best to Alok Kapali. But Mahmud had his place in the side due to his work with the ball and in that department he failed, only taking 2 wickets for the series at 68.50. He then looked to the test matches against South Africa to lead his country. But once again it would be a disappointing performance. Loosing both the test matches convincingly. As a captain he let the team down, dropping some important catches and in times of crisis bowled himself too much. It was however an improvement from the World Cup and although the public wanted otherwise the BCB kept him on as captain.
The next tour was Australia were he was more woeful then ever. Not only did Bangladesh get destroyed in each match but also Mahmud did not take a wicket for the entire test and one-day series. The team itself improved no thanks to El Captain. At the end of the test series he had the worst test bowling average in history. Not a record you want to have. Now the public were really asking for a change but still there was no real replacement. A couple of the touring party were making a strong impression but would it last, the BCB decided that they would see the fate of the captaincy after the series against Pakistan.
So onto Pakistan they went, make or break for Mahmud. In the first test they had improved tremendously. The Bangla's lost the first innings by a mere total of 58 runs. It was anyone's game and after Habibul Bashar hit his 2nd test century they stood a great chance. Due to a bottom order collapse and a fine innings by Yasir Hameed, Pakistan eventually won by 7 wickets. They may not have won but it was definitely a step in the right direction. Mahmud himself took a lone wicket and got a first ball duck in the second innings but that all turned around in game 2. Due to a Javed Omar hundred, Bangladesh set a phenomenal total of 361 to put Pakistan on the back foot. Mohammad Rafique then took 5 wickets to bowl Bangladesh to a first innings lead. This was new territory for Bangladesh and in the second innings couldn't handle the pressure getting all out for fewer than 100. Pakistan reached the target for the loss of one wicket but once again this was massive improvement for Bangladesh although Mahmud had still not shone throughout the series. It was to game 3 were Bangladesh were once again to improve. Once again they got first innings lead this time by 106 runs. This was mainly because of the skipper who took four wickets to leave Pakistan all out for 175. Bangladesh then set the Paki's 261 to win and were right on target. Had it not been for a scintillating unbeaten century by Inzamam-ul-Haq then the boys from Bengal would have got themselves their first test victory and silenced the critics but it was not to be. Although they were swept away in the 5 one-day series, Mahmud had done a magnificent job with the ball and done more than what was asked of him so keeping the captaincy for another series.
After the great tour of Pakistan all eyes were on the boys to break the duck against the Poms. It was not to be. The Bangladeshi's failed miserably being swept off the park in both the test and one-dayer's. Mahmud only took 1 wicket in the test series as compared to Mohammad Rafique's 10 and in the one-dayer's Mahmud took a single and Rafique claimed nothing from his 2 games. It is now obvious that there has to be a change in leadership before the series against Zimbabwe and the 'A' tour of Pakistan is the perfect chance to experiment.
The captain for the 'A' tour is the number 1 performer against England, Mushfiqur Rahman. He was consistent but did nothing really special. It shows that they're looking to him as a future captain but is it right to anoint him on one reasonable series. He would end up like Mahmud, only in the side due to being captain. He is not magnificent with either bat or ball but did what was required of him. The 'A' tour is just a test. For captaincy you would need a constantly good performer. One who has experience and a cool head and is a constant in the side. The three players who have done all right over recent times and have enough experience are Javed Omar, Mohammad Rafique and Habibul Bashar. Javed has not player a one-day match since he was in Australia and Bangladesh are not the kind of team to have separate captains. So the captaincy must go down to Rafique and Bashar, both of which would do a good job. The one question is would being captain reduce their performance. In this case you may be looking for more of a Rafique who has taken many wickets from the last few series. My guess is as good as yours as of who will take over but you would predict someone would. To persist with Mahmud would be ludicrous. Interest will certainly be on this issue in the upcoming 'A' tour of Pakistan. One would not like to be the selector who had to pick so we are forced to leave our trust with the BCB, Dav Whatmore, players and pray for the best.