Shanto calls for better wickets ahead of T20 World Cup

Sports Desk Published: 28 May 2024, 11:47 AM
Shanto calls for better wickets ahead of T20 World Cup

Bangladesh can only hope to improve their lacklustre T20 World Cup record once they get better pitches at home, new captain Najmul Hossain Shanto told AFP ahead of the showpiece tournament.

The South Asian nation is one of nine countries to have played all T20 World Cups since the tournament began in 2007 but is alone in never having made it to the knockout stage.

Najmul, appointed all-format captain in February aged just 25 to replace newly minted politician Shakib Al Hasan, blamed their failures on home pitches ill-suited to the typical run feasts seen elsewhere in the 20-over format.

"First of all, we have to play on good wickets," he told AFP.

"Some people can take it as an excuse, but it is really a fact that we play very few matches on a good wicket."

Bangladeshi pitches are known for low-scoring matches and only one player in their World Cup squad, top-order batsman Towhid Hridoy, has a T20 international strike rate above 130.

"It is difficult to change things in six months. If we continue on a good wicket for one or two years, then these strike rates will improve," said Najmul.

Ninth-ranked Bangladesh have nonetheless started seeing some improvement in the short game with series wins at home against powerhouses Australia, England and New Zealand this decade.

But there have been hiccups along the way such as the 2-1 defeat by the USA in a three-match warm-up series in Houston this week.

"We have won a few series and we have won against big teams," Najmul said before the USA series. "The confidence of the team is in a good position.

"The matches we have played recently, if we can be like that in the World Cup, if we can take the decisions properly, if we can execute our plans, then it is possible to do something good."

- 'Giving their best' -

This year's T20 World Cup -- which begins June 1 in the United States and West Indies -- is likely to be a curtain call for some of Bangladesh's most formidable players.

Najmul's predecessor Shakib, still the top-ranked T20 all-rounder, made a brief cameo for this month's home series against Zimbabwe but had not played a 20-over international for nearly a year beforehand.

Shakib, 37, was elected to Bangladesh's parliament in January and looks set to hang up his cap shortly along with fellow all-rounder Mahmudullah Riyad, 38.

"Of course, I want them to play in the World Cup, giving their best," Najmul said.

"It is their decision when they will end their careers. As a captain, I would like them to share their experience with every player."

Bangladesh face an uphill battle in their group with formidable opponents in South Africa and Sri Lanka, along with Nepal, playing in only their second T20 World Cup, and the Netherlands.

They begin in Dallas on June 7 against Sri Lanka, a side that Najmul's men have developed a simmering rivalry with since last year's ODI World Cup.

Their match in India generated considerable rancour when Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews became the first-ever batsman to be timed out in international cricket.

Sri Lanka reignited the row during a tour of Bangladesh in March in which they celebrated their T20 series win by pointing to imaginary watches on their wrists, prompting Najmul to accuse them of not having "moved on" from the Mathews incident.

"We have already moved on," he told AFP when asked about any lingering ill-will.

"From the day the incident happened, we did not do anything that would make us think about it. I can't say much about them. But as a team, we are focusing on our own game."

Source: BSS