Do you want to kill two birds with one stone? You may contact the Bangladesh team and get such a ‘stone’.
Bangladesh team had no practice session and apart from some gym work and swimming, Tuesday at Park Continental Hotel in Lahore was like a day off for them. Team meetings always take place on the preceding day of the match. But on this particular leisure day Bangladesh team chose something that would not only provide them some fun but also bring benefits.
After the team meeting in the afternoon, the coach, player and staff all started a unique competition in the meeting room. That consisted of play and many things beyond play like quiz, singing a song, dancing and music competition!
The causality of such unique acts was known from a team member, “We organised this to keep us free from tension and having fun together. This is a new trait in the team and everyone liked it.”
The competition at the meeting room was divided into groups. The main reason was to increase the practice of teamwork in disguise of fun. So, it is better to call this a new type of practice session instead of terming a competition.
It was known that for the last few months the Bangladesh team has been fostering the culture of moving ahead in unison more than before. The thought of doing something collectively is achieving a new dimension in the mindset of the players. The team obviously had this thing earlier, but sometimes the team experienced an ambience of disintegration as well.
So, captain Shakib al Hasan and coaching staff and team management are trying to increase the practice of sense of unity among the players.
Though the Bangladesh team did not practice in the last two days in Lahore, they had no dearth of playing between themselves and chit-chats about things beyond the game. Maybe the pace bowlers were sitting somewhere talking about bowling. Sometimes the top order batters were seen together. Even when it comes to personal gym sessions, it turned out that no one is alone. As a result, not only will the mutual connection between the cricketers increase, but also will the involvement of everyone with the team. Everyone will feel an urge to do something for the team. All these initiatives have only one purpose - to play the game on the field as a team.
The tone of the team was reflected in the words of pacer Shoriful Islam. While talking about Wednesday’s match on mobile phone, he said, “Only one message was conveyed from the team that we will play as a unit. Give your best. Playing as a unit will help winning the match. That is the optimum thing.”
Shoriful rued the fact that the Asia Cup had ended for Najmul Hossain due to a hamstring injury. “We will miss Shanto bhai (Najmul). He was in a good rhythm. He scored a nice century.”
But it was evident that Shoriful was also aware of the reality. “There’s nothing to do about it now. We have to understand that. Hopefully, Liton bhai will step up and fill in the absence of Shanto bhai.”
One of the reasons why the Bangladesh team did not practise on Tuesday was the sultry weather. Practising in the 36-degree Celsius temperature in Lahore, may make the players tired even before the match. Apart from that, the team did not want to take the extra pressure of practising on the day before the match to avoid any unwanted injuries to anyone, especially given the recent history of the team.
Pakistan is currently the no. 1 team according to ICC ranking. They lost just one match in the last 10 ODIS. They were in good positions against arch-rivals India in their last match at Pallekele bundling out India for 266 in 48.5 overs before the rain poured in stopping any more action in the game. All 10 wickets in India innings were taken by three Pakistan pacers.
Before this, captain Babar Azam and Iftekhar Ahmed’s century played a big role in the huge victory of 238 runs against Nepal, who were wrapped up for 104 runs, in the first match in Multan. Later, Shadab Khan’s four-fer made the win even easier. Pakistan’s bowling-batting so far in this tournament has been like 99 out of 100.
But the thought process of Shoriful before the match against in-form Pakistan is rather simple. Whatever their rank and however good their form is they have to start afresh in the Gaddafi Stadium today, Wednesday. Against new opposition in a new match, they cannot afford to indulge them in the nostalgia of the golden past.
By reminding the fact, Shaoriful said, “They are a good team, no. 1 in the ranking. But at the end of the day the game is about ball and bat. We see it in that way and take it as a normal match. We do not want to think much beyond this before the match.”
Before such an exam the most important thing is a good night’s sleep. There is no reason to squander that before facing Pakistan in their own backyard. Rather, it is better to be free from tension thorough singing, dancing and quiz programmes.
* The report, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo has been rewritten in ENglish by Syed Faiz Ahmed