All-rounder Moises Henriques acknowledged that the hosts, Bangladesh, have been more intelligent with their approach in spin-friendly conditions and admitted that his side have been outsmarted. Back-to-back defeats have now put Australia in a must-win situation in each of the 3 remaining matches.
A recurring feature during Australia’s 1-4 T20I series defeat in the Caribbean last month was their struggle against quality spin-bowling aided by the slow surfaces. They found it extremely challenging against the duo of Hayden Walsh Jr and Fabien Allen, not to forget Dwayne Bravo’s guile at the back-end. The woes have only been magnified further, after their two straight defeats against Bangladesh, the second of which came on Wednesday, August 4, at Dhaka’s Shere Bangla National Stadium.
In an inexperienced batting line-up, missing the likes of Aaron Finch, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh has been the lone star, much like he was against the West Indies, having top-scored with 45 in each of the first two games. Quite stunningly, only one other Australia batsman, Moises Henriques (30 in the second T20I), has crossed 15 in the series thus far.
On Wednesday, they were undone by shrewd pace variations from Mustafizur Rahman and Shoriful Islam, who bagged five wickets between them. Henriques admitted that his side was undone by the opposition’s smart planning and execution in ‘alien’ playing conditions.
"Tonight, I actually thought they were a bit smarter than us to be honest," the 34-year-old told cricket.com.au after the second T20I.
"Their cricket intelligence was probably (better). Maybe it helps that they've played in monsoon season on this wicket a little more. There's a young squad here and a lot of players who I think will go on to play a lot of games for Australia, and if they can find ways to succeed here in these conditions, they won't be faced with too many tougher conditions in terms of how the actual wicket and the ground is away from home.
"I've played 60 games in the IPL and the wickets that we're playing on here … they're as foreign and as alien as I've come across. They're a big adjustment for us and we probably have to adapt quicker, that's for sure. There's no excuses there. It's great for us to be exposed to this because I don't think it's going to get any more different or any more the opposite to what we're used to in Australia."
Australia have struggled to seize early advantage in the powerplay, with spinners Mahedi Hasan, Nasum Ahmed and Shakib Al Hasan showcasing great accuracy with the new ball. On the contrary, Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar have just bowled two-overs between them in the first-six overs, and while their returns have been decent still, the impact hasn't been as significant.
"There is a strange softness to the wicket, so (Bangladesh) have adapted really quickly," Henriques said.
"They’ve bowled almost six overs of spin in the Power Play knowing what the wicket is going to be like this time of year, with how wet it is. They've got the advantage of knowing what that plays like. We had no idea it would be like that.
"Having said that, now we do know, and whilst we can't control a few things we can definitely control assessing our own performances and coming up with plans for how we're going to get over the line for the next three (games)."
Henriques reserved high-praises for Mustafizur, his former teammate at the Sunrisers Hyderabad, for his excellent adaptability under the conditions. The left-armer returned with 2/16 in the first T20I, before following it up with 3/23 in the second.
"Mustafiz tonight showed how quickly he adapts – I think he bowled 23 or 24 slower balls and did not bowl any more balls with pace on," said Henriques.
"He doesn't do that when he plays in the IPL … it's probably half-half. He summed up the conditions really well tonight, credit to him. His slower ball even on a good wicket is hard to play, let alone on something like that. It's one thing to be able to do that with your body but to keep hitting the right length like he does (is difficult to face). It's smart bowling because he's got some pace as well if he needs it, but he's summed up the conditions really well and stuck with his plan."
The third T20I will be played at the same venue on Friday, August 6.