In the space of exactly 12 months, Shanto has completely turned around his international career. He established himself in the T20I side with a decent World Cup in Australia and followed it with a strong performance in BPL 2023. This year he finally seems to have cracked the ODIs while cementing his Test place too. Now, with both Shakib Al Hasan and Litton Das rested ahead of the grind of travelling in India for the ODI World Cup, Shanto’s rise in form and involvement in the field has meant he has been asked to lead the side.
“It is a matter of huge pride for me as a cricketer,” Shanto said. “My family is proud too. I am enjoying this opportunity provided to me by the cricket board. I have had a good journey so far. I have a long way to go yet. I am enjoying every moment regardless of whether it is good or bad. I will try to give my best if there’s more opportunity in the future to lead the side. It is every cricketer’s dream to lead their country.”
Bangladesh’s winning streak against New Zealand at home since 2010 has been halted – they can still level the series – but Shanto says there are no nerves in the dressing room.
“We have to focus on building bigger partnerships once we get a good start. We are working on set batters ensuring they make it big”
“I think it is a happy occasion,” he said. “I want to ensure that the team finishes well in this series looking ahead to the World Cup. I believe the team is in a good position. I don’t know what happened in 2008 [the last time New Zealand won an ODI series in Bangladesh] but I also think we don’t need to think about it. The main thing is to do well tomorrow.”
Bangladesh’s inconsistency with the bat in their last ten completed ODI innings has been a headache. Shanto has bailed them out at times, but he believed that forging partnerships would help the team overcome this problem.
“It is challenging for the top order to bat in these [hot] weather conditions,” he said. “We started well in the second ODI. We were 54 for 1 [after ten overs]. So we have to focus on building bigger partnerships once we get a good start. We are working on set batters ensuring they make it big.
“[Back-to-back wickets] can happen for any number of reasons. It is always difficult for new batters. The important thing is that the set batter continues for long. They must stay at the wicket. They must play a big innings.”
Bangladesh will leave for India on September 27, the day after the third ODI against New Zealand. Their practice matches are on September 29 and October 2, so the tight schedule means they have to take as much confidence as they can into the World Cup. Shanto said that it is not only about playing in similar conditions in Dhaka so that they don’t find a lot of surprises in India, it is also about beating New Zealand so that they round off their preparatory part well.
“We want to finish this series well. We don’t know what type of wickets we get in India. I am guessing the wickets will be pretty good. We need to remember that there are some wickets in India where big scores aren’t always possible. We will play tomorrow’s match according to the conditions, and if we finish well, we will have a good preparation.”