International Cricket

Najmul Hossain Shanto lauds ‘important’ Rishad Hossain

Moments before the press conference in Chattogram on Monday, when two journalists mentioned Rishad Hossain’s innings to Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto, he nodded his head smiling. Rishad had just closed out the third ODI against Sri Lanka with an unbeaten 48 off 18 balls.

Bangladesh were 178 for 6 chasing 236 runs. Mushfiqur Rahim was the last remaining recognised batter. Rishad had a good outing with his legspin but now needed to support Mushfiqur through to the end of the chase.

The senior batter instead stood and watched Rishad creaming Wanindu Hasaranga in two big overs. Rishad tore into the legspinner with four sixes, including two in a 24-run over. Bangladesh eventually won with 58 balls to spare.

Shanto praised Rishad for his all-round abilities but warned against putting him under too much pressure.

“His bowling is very important to us,” Shanto said. “We don’t have a legspinner. He bowled well today, taking an important wicket in the middle overs. It helped the team. I think we shouldn’t be too excited about him though. Let him keep improving. I think he has bowled well since the New Zealand tour.

“We were worried in the dugout after Miraz’s dismissal. We told Rishad to bat as he pleases. His batting has improved since the New Zealand tour too. I think he is also a good fielder. He still has a lot of areas to improve on, and he is working on it. We are really happy with him. A player like him definitely makes life easier for a captain.”

Rishad, being a legspinner, often gets disregarded in domestic cricket where team officials, coaches and captains are reluctant to play him. As a result, he has had to get most of his bowling and batting practice in the nets. But Shanto said that Rishad’s performance against Sri Lanka in the last two weeks should warrant him more domestic matches.

“Usually players do well in domestic cricket to get chance in the national team. He plays in the national team but doesn’t get chance in domestic cricket. I think the team management of his team should take care of him,” Shanto said.

Shanto, however, said that he expected Tanzid Hasan to be at the crease towards the end of the innings after he started rapidly in the powerplay. Tanzid reached his second fifty although wickets kept falling at the other end, but when he got out on 84, Bangladesh were 130 for five.

“I think he batted well, especially the way he started and in the middle part of his innings. But I wasn’t happy at the way he got out. A set batter should be able to finish a chase. An eighty or a hundred only matters when the team has won. His runs must be valuable to the team. He batted well at the start but he should have finished the game.

“The concussion rule means that players have to be prepared for any situation. Players were well prepared, so that’s why he looked like he was ready for the innings.”

Shanto said that the Bangladesh bowlers stepped up in a big way when they bowled out Sri Lanka for 235 runs, a sub-part total given the pitch and conditions in Chattogram.

“I don’t think we could have bowled them out any faster on this wicket. I think we bowled really well. We restricted them to 235. Taskin, Shoriful, Fizz, Miraz and Rishad bowled very well. There was a bit of help at the start which the pace bowlers used really well. They gave us a chaseable target.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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