International Cricket

Ban vs NZ – 2nd Test – Hathurusinghe on Shanto: ‘He was commanding respect, demanding the standard’

A high-energy group led by a proactive captain. Experienced cricketers putting together important partnerships. A mature bowler growing tactically strong. These are the ingredients that Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe found in the Sylhet Test and wants to work with going forward. He said last month that his real work begins after the World Cup, and a 150-run win against New Zealand is the best possible start.

Hathurusinghe noted the intensity Bangladesh showed in Sylhet, which he believes came from many of the players playing domestic cricket in the time leading up to the Test series. He said that the more freedom the players will get, they will get better.

“It is a young [team] in sense of experience but they are really good in terms of skills,” Hathurusinghe said. “When they are given the freedom to play, the way they normally play in the NCL [National Cricket League], they play well. This is a good advertisement for our domestic cricket. Seven players from that XI played domestic cricket. You can see their energy on the field till the fifth day. It is not about the outcome. It can vary in cricket. They were still there when the opposition had long partnerships. Those are little signs that I look at. The young team gave their all. The message [to the players] is to do the same thing.”

Hathurusinghe felt Najmul Hossain Shanto led the side well in Sylhet, showing the mark of a future leader. He believes that Shanto should be a strong contender to be full-time Bangladesh captain.

“Captaincy and leadership are two things,” Hathurusinghe said. “Captaincy was excellent. He was tactically on the mark. He was a step ahead of the game most of the time. Very impressive field placings as well. Sometimes unorthodox, but very effective.

“His leadership was excellent. He led from the front with his performance. He was commanding respect, and demanding the standard. I think he has a long future ahead. The decision to appoint him as captain is with the board. They will make that decision when the right time comes. Definitely [a strong contender].”

Bangladesh’s foundation in Sylhet was the batting partnerships involving Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mominul Haque. It took the game away from the visitors, particularly on the third day when Bangladesh took control of the game. “Our second-innings batting was crucial to win the game. We had two 90-plus partnerships. Mominul in both of them.

“We could have scored a little more in the first innings but we decided a certain approach when the wicket is good. Things can go your way when you approach it like that. It can sometimes go against you. We played according to the conditions and our plan. I am happy with the performance in both innings.”

Hathurusinghe also believes that Mominul and Mushfiqur are involved in helping the young team, particularly in their approach in the dressing room where they ensure nobody really can get complacent. “I can’t see complacency in the team. If I see any action of complacency, I will have one-to-one chat. We had a good chat inside the dressing room yesterday. Strong and experienced leaders like Mushy and Mominul spoke well. I can see there’s no tall poppies in the dressing room.”

Hathurusinghe also had special praise for Taijul Islam who took his second ten-wicket match haul. Rangana Herath, the erstwhile spin bowling coach, gave Taijul a lot of tactical advice, he said.

“You all talk about him when he does well. We talk about him inside a lot,” Hathurusinghe said. “He is very thorough in his training. Very precise how he wants to prepare. He is a mentally strong person. He goes under the radar because he plays behind a world-class player. Taijul always plays second fiddle to Shakib in most of the games.”

He however said Bangladesh cannot expect big wins all the time, especially against teams like New Zealand. Bangladesh will be in a rebuilding phase, now that the likes of Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal have become unavailable for the next couple of months. Long-term injuries to Taskin Ahmed and Ebadot Hossain also mean the fast bowling unit currently lacks a bit of depth.

“You can’t turn things around so quickly.” Hathurusinghe said. “If we keep doing things that are right for our team and team culture, results will take care of itself. We won’t win every game. We will try to do that.

“We played a complete game [in Sylhet], but it is very difficult to do that against a good team. We have to start from zero again. We are trying to start this game like we started the Sylhet game. Same anxiety, intensity, hope and aim. We have to compete every day.”

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