Bangladesh has won three series in a row. As a captain, you might be very happy.
Of course. We needed this consistency before the World Cup. In all the three series, we won by playing very good cricket as a good team. It will boost our confidence in the World Cup.
There is a little chance of getting the same sort of wickets in the World Cup as it was against the Australia and New Zealand series. In that case, is there any lack in the preparations, especially for the batsmen?
I am not too worried about these discussions. How well you played is the most important thing and players should be praised for this. The wicket in Zimbabwe was in favour of the batsmen. Our batsmen did well there. We won the last T20I match by chasing 193. Yes, the wicket in Mirpur was difficult for the batsmen of both teams. But we have won the matches even in that condition. Why don't people think in this way without just criticising?
The point is wickets in the World Cup won’t be the same. Won’t our batsmen face any problem in the World Cup after playing on such a surface?
We will start the World Cup campaign in Oman a bit earlier for this reason. The wickets there may be good for batsmen. The number of wins always works as an indicator to boost the team’s confidence. If you lose a game despite playing great, it will not boost your confidence; rather it creates frustration among the players. We have won series against Australia and Zimbabwe and defeated Zimbabwe in their home conditions. People’s criticism is undermining the players' achievement which is not right at all. More or less all the teams take advantage of home conditions. Why is there no such discussion about them, which is happening to us? Maybe we are being criticised more because we played well and won the series. We have won 9 of the last 13 T20Is. The Bangladesh team should get the credit for that.
In those matches, Bangladesh won despite being in a difficult situation which seemed difficult for you in the T20I format. Do you think Bangladesh is getting the winning formula in T20 cricket now?
I think so. As I said before, we may not be playing as well as we could in the T20 format. But we had the belief that once we started to win, things would turn in our favour. It is difficult to chase 190 against any team in any condition, which we did against Zimbabwe. Again, when we lost 3 or 4 wickets in quick succession in home conditions, we showed how to play in the middle order in accordance with the situation. These tunings have been very good in the last few series. In T20I, you have to trust in your skills all the time and play fearless cricket.
Did you do something special during the practice sessions to develop as a better T20I team?
Our fielding was outstanding in the last few series. We have taken some great catches and saved some boundaries. These little things make a big difference in a T20 match. The environment within the team is quite good now. Sometimes, players become idle due to lack of match time. But the players, who are not getting chances, are also working so hard now.
The bowlers also did very well in the recent series. How useful will this bowling be in World Cup conditions?
At the moment, we have a complete and versatile bowling attack. All the bowlers are in good form. Shakib (Shakib Al Hasan) and Mustafiz (Mustafizur Rahman) are among the top 10 T20 bowlers. Saifuddin has bowled very well in every match. Although Shoriful (shoriful Islam) didn’t get chance in the New Zealand series, he did very well against Australia. Nasum, Mahedi – all did very well with the ball. I am quite hopeful that they would do the same in the World Cup too.
Mushfiqur had a bad time against New Zealand.
Mushfiqur has been contributing a lot to the team for the last 15-16 years. As I said before, this condition was difficult for all the batsmen. Mushfiqur may not have been able to bat the way he wanted. But he will find himself back again. Mushfiqur is a big stage player. He will definitely do well in the World Cup.
How do you see those who will open in the absence of Tamim Iqbal?
They are doing quite good. Naim was our top scorer in the last few series. Liton was unavailable in one series. He may not have batted as he wanted in the last series. Soumya has got a chance in one match only. However, he batted quite well against Zimbabwe and New Zealand. We should not be worried about this. They will prove their worth when we will play on a batting pitch.
However, won’t you feel the absence of an experienced opener like Tamim Iqbal in the World Cup?
Only time will tell what the team needs. Tamim is definitely a good cricketer and a reliable batsman for the Bangladesh team. But it is also a great opportunity for others to shine on the biggest occasion.
It was Shakib’s performance which took Bangladesh that far in the 2019 World Cup. What do you expect from him as a captain?
Shakib contributes a lot to the team. He contributes to every sector. I am quite hopeful that he will give his best this time too, just as the 2019 World Cup. As a captain, I always get help from him in and outside the field. Shakib always emphasises on the betterment of the team.
What would be the target of Bangladesh in the World Cup?
We don’t have many fond memories of the past T20I World Cups. So our first goal will be to do something special. I believe we would do something special in the World Cup.
What is that special thing? Will Bangladesh be the champion?
Only time will tell (laughter). Anything can happen.
*This interview appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu