Bangladesh to play as a unit: Shanto

Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain ShantoShamsul Haque

Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto stressed on the requirements of playing as a unit as his side gears up for the three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka. The first ODI will be held Wednesday at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram.

“What is most important is to play as a unit. When we play as a unit, our chance to win the match is always increased significantly,” Shanto said in a pre-match conference today in Chattogram.

“We were able to play as a team in New Zealand, which was our last series. We wanted to win all matches in New Zealand but unfortunately (we couldn’t do this). During the World Cup, we couldn’t play as a unit but we have to be careful to support each other during the bad times.”

While Bangladesh couldn’t live up to the expectation in the World Cup, they did considerably well in an ODI series in New Zealand at the fag end of the year. For the first time, the Tigers won an ODI match on New Zealand soil even though they lost the series by 2-1 eventually.

In fact Bangladesh’s ODI record in 2023 has been dismal. Shanto’s target is to bring the side back on the track as they will be playing their first ODI series in this year.

“You have to face enormous challenges when you will be up against an International team. We had played extraordinary cricket, especially in ODI format from 2015-2022, so a bad year can grip us. But it is important to bounce back. And we are ready for this,” he remarked.

Shanto remained tightlipped on Bangladesh opening issue as the Tigers have four openers in the squad-- Liton Das, Anamul Haque Bijoy, Soumya Sarkar and Tanzid Hasan Tamim.

Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe and Soumya Sarkar during a practice session
Prothom Alo

But the question which came to the fore is that what will be Liton Das’ role. Even though he was seen as Bangladesh’s permanent opener, he batted at No.4 position in the last series while Soumya and Bijoy opened the innings.

“I don't want to say it now that who will be opening the innings. We’ll do what we think as good for the team,” Shanto tried to avoid the issue.

But if given a chance, the skipper hopes for something better from another opener Soumya Sarkar.

“He (Soumya) came after many days and played three matches in the last series and in one innings he played a big knock. He has consistency issue. But consistency is imperative for all batters, not only in Soumya’s case. Soumya and we all other batters are working on to how we can keep our consistency in the International cricket. I hope he will do something good for the team if he gets a chance in this series as well,” Shanto pinned hopes on Soumya.

Soumya struck his career-best 151 ball-169 in second ODI against New Zealand in Nelson. The innings is the highest individual knock by a Bangladeshi batter on overseas ground. However, Bangladesh lost that game by three wickets.

The Bangladesh team's repeated batting order changes in the last India World Cup raised a lot of discussions.

Shanto reminded that the team didn’t bring many changes in batting order in the last series.

“There were no huge changes in batting order in the last series. I don’t think we’ll bring up changes in this series.  But obviously there is no Shakib Al Hasan. Shakib’s presence always makes our task easier because he can give you the solidity in both batting and bowling.”

Even though there is no Shakib, Shanto is getting seasoned campaigner Mahmudullah, who has been in great form since the World Cup. In fact, the captain hopes to make a winning start in the series.