Mahmudullah and Shakib Al Hasan run between the wickets. Photo: AFP
Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh captain, led from the front and helped his team in levelling the series 1-1 on Thursday (December 20) at Dhaka. The talismanic southpaw was named the Man of the Match for his all-round performance - an unbeaten 42 off 26 with the bat and a fifer (5 for 20) with the ball.
In the post-match press conference, Shakib revealed that his side never took the Windies batting unit for granted despite posting a huge total on the board. He said, "Their batting line-up was quite long and everyone could play big shots. So we were worried till the end. They bat till No. 9 and until that period it was a fifty-fifty game."
In a day-night encounter in Bangladesh, dew was always going to be a factor and today was no different. The fact that they had ample runs on the board helped the home team to bowl with less pressure. "It was difficult to bowl in the second half because there was plenty of dew, but Miraz still bowled well. It is not just the spinners, but even the pacers struggled. The runs on the board gave us the courage and it reflected in our game," Shakib said.
Barring Shakib, no one else contributed big with the bat in the first match. Even Neil McKenzie, Bangladesh's limited-overs batting consultant, mentioned that the Bangladeshi batsmen failed to adapt their games. The top three batsmen didn't get into double digits at Sylhet and all of them perished to short-pitched deliveries. In a pressure game - a must-win fixture - they showed their mettle, much to the delight of their captain.
"Our batsmen learnt a lesson from the last game and played sensible cricket. In the previous match, their bowlers bowled at 140kph and we tried to hit them at 180kph. But today we used the pace and it was the right game plan.
Liton showed that if we can use the pace, we can score runs against this pace."
Bangladesh dropped a couple of catches in the field. And barring those, Shakib's men were disciplined for the major part of the game. "There is no fixed rule of playing T20 cricket that suggests it will be successful. There were some mistakes in fielding, otherwise we played good game of T20 cricket. Our batsmen set the platform for us. Liton and Soumya played well."
Shakib also hailed Mahmudullah who kick-started his innings with three successive boundaries to eventually score an unbeaten 43 off 21 deliveries. "My partnership with Riyad bhai was very important because it would not have been easy had we lost a wicket at that point. Because of that stand, we were able to score those extra 20 or 30 runs. I think he should bat this way, because whenever he plays with positive frame of mind he contributes for the team. So I believe it is the right way to bat for him".
After his heroics with the bat, the skipper played a significant role with the ball claiming his maiden five-wicket haul in T20Is and he was chuffed to bits. He said, "It's really a great feeling. I had no five-wicket haul in this format. So I am really happy for that. This bowling effort will be somewhere at the top in T20. I have been batting really well throughout the series. I hope I will be able to continue with such performances in coming days."