Shanto banks on bowlers, stable batting line-up for ODI turnaround

Shakib Al Hasan’s absence will make striking the right team balance tricky, concedes Bangladesh captain

Mohammad Isam

12-Mar-2024 • 23 hrs ago

Chandika Hathurusinghe and Najmul Hossain Shanto work out their plans  •  AFP/Getty Images

Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto has played down Bangladesh’s recent form blip in ODIs, saying that they are preparing to make a comeback against Sri Lanka this week. Bangladesh have lost their last two home series to Afghanistan and New Zealand and are looking to avoid a third straight defeat.

Shanto said that Shakib Al Hasan’s absence will influence how they shape the playing XI, but he wants to keep the batting order as unchanged as possible in this series.

“We are prepared for a turnaround as a team,” Shanto said a day before the start of the three-match ODI series. “We did very well between 2015 and 2022, but we had one bad year. That can happen. We always face challenges at this level, so it is important that we start playing well.

“We didn’t change [our line-up] much in our last series in New Zealand. Shakib bhai isn’t in the team, so there will be a bit more planning. He makes life easy for all of us. We will keep his absence in mind when making the batting order. We are hopeful of having a steady batting line-up.”

Bangladesh will bank heavily on their bowling unit, particularly the quicks, to bring them success in Chattogram. It is usually batting-friendly in the port city, where the dew is often a factor even in March, considered springtime in Bangladesh.

“It is important to see how the bowlers adjust to the conditions and wicket in Chattogram,” Shanto said. “It is definitely a challenge for them. Everyone has to consider the conditions in which they are bowling. We are not worried about how much a bowler is conceding individually. We want to see the bowling unit functioning well as a group.”

“We probably become a bad team after losing one game. The lower hype may be due to the start of Ramadan. We are not worried about it. Those who follow the team, they always come to the ground”

Najmul Hossain Shanto

Bangladesh will also hope that Soumya Sarkar, who cracked 169 in the second ODI in New Zealand last year, comes good against Sri Lanka. He broke Tamim Iqbal’s 14-year-old record of the highest overseas innings by a Bangladesh batter in ODIs, but Soumya made only four more runs in the series.

“[Soumya] played a full series in New Zealand after a long time. He played a big innings in one of the matches. Everyone has to be consistent. There is room for improvement, and Soumya knows about it,” Shanto said. “He is working on it. His innings in New Zealand was indeed a big deal for our team, especially in those conditions. I am hopeful that he will use his opportunity well.”

Bangladesh can expect to play in front of small crowds at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium given it’s Ramadan time. Shanto said that it didn’t worry him as he expected the crowds to come as soon as the team started to do well.

“Everything is okay the moment we win a game,” he said. “We probably become a bad team after losing one game. The lower hype may be due to the start of Ramadan. We are not worried about it. Those who follow the team, they always come to the ground. I think they become emotional because they expect a lot more from us. We always try to give our best to make them happy.”

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Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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