‘We capitalized on England being short of batters’ – Shakib

‘We capitalized on England being short of batters’ – Shakib

Bangladesh T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan said on Tuesday (March 14) that they never dreamt of cleanly sweeping the current T20 World Champions. Bangladesh defeated England by 16 runs to end the series on a high having already clinched it by winning the previous game.

“We didn’t dream of it, but we also didn’t put ourselves pressure before the series. We didn’t talk about winning games but just wanted to play good cricket,” Shakib told reporters after the game. “We tried to contribute with the bat in all three games. I think we fielded unbelievably well too, especially in T20s where two or four runs make a big difference.

“Everyone noticed our fielding in these three matches. We out-fielded England, who are themselves a good fielding side. It is a big tick mark. Our biggest improvement is in our fielding when I consider every aspect. We should always field well, but we have targeted to become the best fielding side in Asia. After this performance, I don’t think we are too far behind.”

England coach Matthew Mott echoed Shakib’s sentiments on the fielding and admitted Bangladesh were the better side. “I thought our first 15 overs in the field were nowhere near the level we’d expect,” Mott said. “We really wanted to finish well here. It’s been a fantastic tour in terms of what we’ve been up against, a very strong home team. I thought we were on today. The lead-in was good, everyone was up and about. But for whatever reason, we just couldn’t get clean hands with the ball, either in the air or on the ground. Bangladesh definitely out-fielded us in most of the games, but particularly today, and that’s something we’re going to focus a lot on as a group, but definitely in the debrief tonight it’ll get a lot of focus.”

Shakib also pointed out the fact that England didn’t have a long batting lineup in the series, something they took advantage of. “We had more confidence before this series, since we were playing at home,” he said. “We capitalized on England being short of batters. It was our advantage that they didn’t have many batters after losing three or four wickets.”

England had a thin squad for the series especially after not naming a replacement for the injured Will Jacks, which forced them to fill their middle order with allrounders. “We’ve discussed that at length,” Mott said on not picking an extra batter. “If you look at how many players we’ve exposed this year alone, we’ve gone a fair way down the depth charts. The realisation that we’re probably better off investing in some batters there that were put under pressure in these games. You only learn from your mistakes. The opportunities that they’ve been given here will give them time to reflect and when we get into pressure situations in World Cups, I’m confident it was the right decision.”

Shakib also lauded his bowlers for stepping up throughout the series. “Our bowling unit was quite good,” he noted. “We never had the luxury to play with six proper bowlers. We often played with eight batters, which also meant that we were a bowler short. In T20s, you need that (bowling) cushion. Bowlers win you T20 matches, so having that extra bowler always helps. We have a few more areas for tuning ahead of the next World Cup, but we have made a good start,” he added.

Shakib said that he is not interested to compare this series win with their win against New Zealand and Australia but added that he is hopeful they will be a good side in the shortest format in the coming days.

While brushing aside comparisons between this series victory with the ones Bangladesh picked up over Australia and New Zealand a couple of years ago, Shakib stated that his side has been growing in confidence in the shortest format ever since the T20 World Cup last year. “I don’t like to compare between series,” he said. “Winning every match is important but the way we won this series, we haven’t played like this before. Winning with this approach has satisfied the full team. We started playing this way from the Asia Cup, so it took a bit of time to have the right results. But it has started.

“I have been leading the team since the Asia Cup last year. We didn’t win a match there, but I thought we played good cricket. We were unfortunate not to reach the semifinals of the T20 World Cup. We were one win away from that achievement. We had a lot of doubt before the tournament, but the belief that we can compete with bigger teams started from the World Cup.”

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