Players from India, Pakistan, and Australia frequently carry over their form, confidence, strategy, and attitude from domestic competitions like the IPL, PSL, and BBL to the international game. For Bangladeshi athletes and the BPL, it has hardly ever been the case. The nine editions to date haven’t led to the organic production of many players, nor have they had an impact on the playing style or self-assurance that Bangladesh’s national team has brought into T20Is.
For once, Najmul Hossain Shanto and Towhid Hridoy have deviated from the norm. In the opening T20I in Chattogram, the two replicated their Sylhet Strikers partnership and form, leading to Bangladesh’s first T20I triumph over England. Many of the top players from the BPL, which ended less than a month ago, were chosen for this Bangladeshi team. In many ways, this victory has benefited from the policy.
Shanto scored the most runs in the BPL, scoring 516 runs at an average of 39.69 and four half-centuries. Hridoy scored 403 runs at a 140.41 strike rate after making one more fifty. They scored 466 runs in 12 partnerships, including one century stand, which is the best total in the BPL so far this year.
Bangladesh absolutely needed Shanto and Hridoy to maintain the run rate on a ground that, as England had discovered, grew difficult as the ball got older when they were 43 for two in the sixth over and chasing 157. In retaliation, Shanto smashed England’s fastest bowler, Mark Wood, for four straight home runs in the seventh over.
After the two T20I fifties he scored against Zimbabwe and Pakistan in the T20 World Cup last year, Shanto went on to knock his third T20I fiftie in four games. He led the side in scoring throughout that contest, and he has continued in similar vein during the BPL and the ODIs against England.
“I have been scoring regularly, which allows extra confidence,” Shanto said. “Game awareness gets better. I had a better understanding of building my innings. I wasn’t given a specific plan. We just tried to continue with the momentum from the openers. We stuck to a normal plan, reacted to the ball. We tried to apply the way we batted in the BPL. It was nothing different than that.”
Shanto said that Hridoy was able to play his shots better because of his confidence on the opposite end. In his 17-ball 24, Hridoy hit two fours and a six, but like Shanto, he exuded confidence from the Beginning. “Hridoy’s approach and intent, in his first international match, gave me a lot of confidence. He never got nervous playing against such a big team. We just batted the way we batted in the BPL, where we had some big partnerships.”
Shanto said that he hadn’t planned to go after Wood, but focused on finding the gaps, and it all came together. “There was no pre-planning. I reacted to the ball. I tried to use the gaps, which is obviously why I could find the boundaries,” he said.
Even the opposition was impressed by Shanto’s performance, which may have altered the outcome of the match with his quickfire fifty. Bangladesh, according to Phil Salt, dominated the 157-run chase.
“Shanto played very well in the chase,” Salt said. “I think the openers set the chase up very well for them, and I think in the middle they played really well. I think the lads that were in for them, they found a way of getting a boundary early in the over quite a lot of the time. I think they ran pretty well as well. So, they’ll be sitting in that dressing-room right now, thinking that’s as close to a perfect chase as they’d have wanted these conditions.”
From the middle of England’s innings, according to Shanto, Bangladesh began to take a slight lead in the match. After quickly reaching 80 for one in the first half, the visitors added only 76 runs in the final ten overs.
“The way we made the comeback in the last ten overs [of the England innings], that gave us the confidence” he said. “Then we started well with the bat. We knew that two more partnerships will get us close to the win.”
Hasan Mahmud, another BPL standout, whose 17 wickets for Rangpur Rangers had been the joint-most in the season, was one of the quick bowlers that helped Bangladesh reverse their fortunes, giving up just 21 runs in the last four overs.
“He bowled an important spell. I think his BPL performance gave him confidence today,” Shanto said. “Hasan Mahmud, Taskin Ahmed and Mustafiz bowled really well in the last few overs. They played a big role in closing them down on 156 for 6.”
Bangladesh has traditionally been a subpar T20I team, but the recent T20 World Cup gave them some much-needed confidence as they won two games for the first time in the competition. Bangladesh gained more self-confidence as a result of Shanto’s crucial runs and some hard-fought victories.
The talk of impact, a watchword in the latter half of 2022, has finally come through for them. “The batsmen were given freedom in this series,” Shanto said. “Impact can’t happen quickly. It takes time. It depends on wickets, conditions. I think the batsmen have a lot more freedom, and soon there will be more impact.”
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