How does one explain Bangladesh's implosion against the West Indies on Friday? Was it Sunil Narine's magic? Did the decision to experiment at the top with two relatively new players in the side -- Imrul Kayes and Shamsur Rahman -- end in disarray? Or -- the more popular opinion among the public -- is this the result of Shakib Al Hasan's absence from the side?
Sporting pundits can go on and on with their analyses and statistics but the fact remains that pointing out a specific reason behind Bangladesh's 177-run defeat -- their largest against the Caribbean outfit -- would be extremely difficult.
That was perhaps the reason why Bangladesh's new head coach, Chandika Hathurusingha, could barely say anything to the players during the post-match meeting. Some say he was stunned, while others reckon that he did not want to further deteriorate the situation. Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure, after Friday's defeat Hathurusingha will consistently be under the scanner -- after all that is the way the Bangladesh Cricket Board works.
Yes, Bangladesh's batsmen seemed absolutely reckless on Friday, but there is a lot more than Imrul Kayes's unnecessary hook or Mahmudullah Riyad's careless prod to Narine that contributed to this thumping defeat.
It is the overall lack of belief in the team, the belief that they can actually win matches that has probably done the worst damage. The seeds of this problem were sown back in February when Mushfiqur Rahim and co lost to Sri Lanka by 13 runs after reducing them to 67 for eight. The effect of that defeat lasted for the entire Asia Cup, a competition where the Tigers went down to Afghanistan and also threw away a match against Pakistan after posting 326, their highest ever ODI total.
Later in June, their 47-run defeat to an under-strength India, where the hosts were bundled out for just 58 in chase of India's 105, only heaped on the pressure and took confidence to an all-time low.
Including the first ODI against the West Indies on Wednesday -- where the Tigers had the hosts at 34 for five but failed to finish it off -- Bangladesh could have, or rather should have, won at least five of the 12 ODIs they played this year.
What it shows is that they are gradually losing that will to fight it out on the field and win a game, no matter what position they are in.
In vulnerable situations like these, where the team management cannot exactly point out what their problem is, their decision-making is affected. And in the case of Bangladesh, the results of that are already showing.
Take for instance, the decision to leave Mominul Haque out of the first two ODIs. The left-hander has been nothing less than a revelation for the Tigers in the last two years. He has been Bangladesh's third-highest ODI scorer -- after Anamul Haque and Mushfiqur Rahim -- this year and most importantly, scored almost all his runs at the crucial number three position, something that a majority of Bangladesh's batsmen have failed to do.
In Test cricket, he has been Bangladesh's highest run-scorer in the last two years. He has scored 755 runs at an average of 75.50 in the last two years.
The only reason behind his exclusion: his apparent weakness against the short ball. If that is in fact the sole basis of building a team, then his replacements in the side -- either Imrul or Shamsur Shamsur-- have not been doing a great job.
In situations like these, the captain, expectedly so, is the first to be brought under scrutiny. And unfortunately for Mushfiqur, despite his resolute batting, time might just be running out for him.