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International cricket earlier returned amid coronavirus pandemic. Now it is set to return to Bangladesh. West Indies have reached Dhaka today, Sunday to play a three-match ODI series and two Tests against the Tigers.

All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan will also return to international cricket after a year of ban by ICC. Shakib spoke to Prothom Alo on Saturday about the opponent West Indies and more.

“Everything is okay. We expect our third child at the second half of March. The rest is on Allah,” he said.

Bangladesh will return to international cricket after 10 months so as Shakib is making his comeback after one year ban by ICC.

“I was out of the game for about one and a half year. The good thing is that everyone will be returning. Everyone will expect to perform better. I don’t think it’ll be easy. How quickly someone can adjust to the situation, will be more important.”

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West Indies played two international series while Bangladesh played only two domestic tournaments. What are the problems you may face in the comeback series?

“Since Tests are a game of patience and time, more troubles are likely,” Shakib Al Hasan said. “But playing ODI before Tests will help us a bit prepare for it."

Several members of West Indies national team are not coming to Bangladesh. Will it benefit the Tigers?

“Absence of several regular players in a team is obviously an advantage to the opponent. But maximising the advantage will be a big challenge for us.”

Do you recall the tour of West Indies in 2009? You led Bangladesh to victory in both Test and ODI series there.

“You see, several players of the 2009 team became regular in the West Indies team later. Kemar Roach is still playing. Daren Sammy won them two world cups. Maybe, they were not the best team. But those, who had played at that time, did well later. They continue to play even after the return of main players. No opportunity to look down upon on anybody. At the end of the day, it’s a game of bat and ball.”

After returning from the USA, you said that Bangladesh losing against West Indies will be a matter of frustration.

“Those, who will play better, will win. You may find that many West Indies players got place in their team after performing well. We know about them. They are in the national team after doing better in CPL and other domestic tournaments. Those not coming are the big players of T20, not of the Test matches.”

West Indies has its main bowling lineup. Will it be difficult for the Tigers to bat after such a long gap?

“I don’t see in that way. When they came last time we defeated them easily. We should have this confidence. “

How much are you prepared for return after a year?

“I prepared my luggage and game equipment today (Saturday), will check in the hotel tomorrow (Sunday). This time, it felt I am doing like I had done in the first time. I have to make all plans anew.

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You played in the Bangabandhu T20 tournament after the ban lifted. Are you excited about returning to international cricket?

“Of course, I’m very excited. And it comes with expectation too. People will expect that I will start from where I stopped. No matter after how many days, I started playing. There will always be a pressure of expectation.”

How confident are you to fulfill the expectation?

“As a professional player, I know that this kind of issues will come up. But I never think much about these things.”

Would you be more confident, if you performed better in the Bangabandhu tournament?

“I don’t remember anything of that tournament. It does not matter that I did not perform better. I participated in the tournament to bring back my playing habit on the field. I didn’t think much about the tournament.”

Why did you practise much at Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishtan (BKSP) before your return?

“People have an expectation and I have an expectation too. When I will start playing, naturally I won’t play to come last. Even a student, who hardly goes to school and study less, takes his tests to stand first in the class.”

Had you worked hard so much any time in the past as you did to return to the field?

“Perhaps I had practised more than this ahead of the last World Cup. The practice at BKSP this time is almost similar to the previous one. Prior to the World Cup, I was in the middle of a challenge. I was in the competition of IPL. But I practised at the BKSP with a goal. It was very good sessions. If the tour of Sri Lanka took place at that time, it would be better for me. As the tour postponed, I went to the US for 40 to 50 days. And it’s a bit of trouble for me.”

You stayed at bio-secure bubble during the Bangabandhu T20 tournament. How was your experience there?

“It’s very difficult to follow (security) rules. Usually we can’t go out during a game. But keeping you confined at your consent, it’s different. You got nothing to do but adjust with it. Now vaccine is being developed. If cricketers or cricket playing countries receive it, hopefully we will no longer stay in bio-security bubble.”

Mashrafe is not in the Tigers’ ODI team against West Indies. Many say his international career might have ended. What do you think?

“Any players can come back by performing better regularly in domestic tournaments. If a batsman hit back-to-back century in 4-5 matches or a bowler performs very good, how can you avoid him? At least he will be included in A team. But, the process of comeback is very difficult.”

The work on your cricket academy almost nears completion. What are your future plans?

“A private company, MASCO is patronising the foundation of the academy. I am very optimistic about the future of the academy. It may be launched this month," Shakib Al Hasan said.

The Bangladesh cricketer said that they are trying to ensure all facilities. If a national team player goes there, he/she does not feel the absence of any facility.

"I can say with a challenge that our academy’s ground is better than any playground in Bangladesh and grass is well. May be the area of the field is small, but improved facilities will be available. If any foreign players or BPL team go there for practice they will have all facilities. As a player, I visited different (cricket) academies in many countries. I have a bit experience how a standard academy should be. And we are keeping in mind all these things.

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