Neil Wagner's sustained short-ball attack has dominated Bangladesh over the first two Tests of the series, with the tactic fetching the New Zealand quick 15 out of his 16 wickets so far. Batsman after batsman fell to Wagner's short-ball persistence: Mahmudullah and Mohammad Mithun were dismissed by the bowler three times, while Liton Das, Mominul Haque and Mehidy Hasan each fell twice. Wagner's short ball also claimed the wickets of Shadman Islam and Tamim Iqbal.
Mahmudullah said that many of the Bangladesh batsmen, including himself, were caught in two minds against Wagner's lines of attack. Often, their proclivity for attacking to counter Wagner landed them in more trouble. Tamim, Mahmudullah and Soumya Sarkar played Wagner well but apart from Soumya, the other two failed in their attempts to pull off the short length on four occasions.
Mahmudullah conceded that the batsmen need to carry much of the blame for the Wellington defeat, where they were effectively bowled out in 117 overs in a match that was already restricted to a maximum of 315 overs, after two days were lost to rain.
"In the first innings, Tamim and Shadman gave us a good start and even after Wagner started with his bouncer theory, we were handling him well but then we gave it away," Mahmudullah said. "We have to bat with more guts for longer periods. A number of our batsmen are playing half-hearted shots, or we are not committed. We are in two minds whether to play a shot or not. You need to back yourself. If you want to attack, you should know how you want to cope with their bouncer theory.
"They will probably have a fast wicket in Christchurch, so our batsmen have to be more responsible, particularly with three new bowlers in the side. I think it is the batsmen who should take more of the blame. We were bowled out twice inside two-and-a-half days."
Mahmudullah said that Wagner had had to pitch the ball very short in Hamilton where Mahmudullah and Soumya Sarkar staged a fightback on the fourth day. But in Wellington where the pitch had more bounce on offer, he could pitch the bouncer slightly further up.
"We knew about him from the last time we were here. Now we are talking a lot about the Wagner factor," Mahmudullah said. "There was certainly help in the pitches for both sets of pace bowlers but we couldn't utilise it as well as they did. I believe that our batsmen have the skill level to handle their short-ball tactics.
"Wagner had to pitch it really short in Hamilton while here he got bounce from a length slightly further up. It was easier to play or leave in Hamilton. Here there was a bit more in the pitch. He made use of it. He was successful to his credit."
Mahmudullah also regretted the reprieves to Ross Taylow, after he Shadman put down chances off Abu Jayed's bowling when the New Zealand batsman was on 20. Ross was on 20 at the time and he went on to score 200 in quick time to take the game away from Bangladesh.
But Mahmudullah also urged the bowlers to find ways to control the flow of boundaries. This was the first time that Bangladesh conceded 400-plus runs in an innings at more than five an over.
"If we had captured those chances, we could have given better momentum to the bowlers. It may have brought us few more wickets. They were playing with seven batters and with the kind of help that this pitch produced for the bowlers, it would have helped our guys.
"Jayed, Mustafizur and Taijul bowled quite well but we ended up conceding five runs an over. We have to find ways to bowl better in the next match," he said.