‘Liton can be a top 10 batsman in the world’
The Daily Star (DS): Bangladesh won the series against Australia and New Zealand comfortably but the batsmen struggled to score runs. Do you think there are concerns in the batting department going into the T20 World Cup?
Ashwell Prince (AP): World-class batsmen with a lot of experience in franchise T20 tournaments and international matches from all three teams (Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh) struggled to score runs fluently during those series. Those pitches were very tough to bat on for everyone.
DS: There was a lot of discussion about the wicket prepared for the past two series. Do you think the Mirpur surface helped in terms of World Cup preparation?
AP: The Mirpur pitches were really difficult. They were very slow and spun a lot. It was obviously really difficult for the groundstaff to get them much firmer during the rainy season. Having said that, the IPL is about to restart in the UAE and by the time the WC starts, those pitches might also be a little tired and start spinning. If things turn out that way, one could argue that these matches versus Australia and New Zealand could be very good preparation. Having said that, if the pitches are better, I think it's easier for batters to adapt to conditions where the ball comes on better and spin less.
DS: What should the batsmen's main focus be in the Oman camp ahead of the World Cup?
AP: Their main focus will be to find their rhythm and have clear game plans going into camp in Oman. It was very hard for the batters to find rhythm in Bangladesh.
DS: Considering the inconsistency in the opening position, especially in the T20 format, what sort of approach do you want to see from the two openers at the T20 World Cup?
AP: As coaching staff, we know what our openers are capable of. They showed glimpses of it on those tough conditions. I'm confident we'll see the best of them on better surfaces.
DS: Liton Das has been impressive in streaks since the start of his career but consistency is one of the problems he faces. What are your expectations of Liton at the T20 World Cup?
AP: The one thing I'd like to see from Liton is for him to believe more in himself. From what I have seen in terms of his natural ability, I think he can be a top 10 batter in the world in all formats. If he believes that and embraces everything that comes with it, I think he'll be more consistent.
DS: We saw Soumya Sarkar play impressively on the Zimbabwe tour but he looks a lot less confident after the two recent series at home. Did you identity where his problems may lie?
AP: We had a couple of conversations and we identified one or two technical issues in terms of his batting. We worked on it extensively during the New Zealand series while he wasn't playing. He feels much better now.
DS: Naim Sheikh got some runs but struggled to rotate the strike, sometimes spiking the number of dot balls in some crucial situations. How can he improve his game and combat those issues?
AP: Once again, the number of dot balls were high for all batters. However, for any young batsman making their way into the international game, whether T20 or 50-over cricket, it makes life a lot easier if you can reduce dot balls. It makes life a lot easier. He might just need a little clarity in his game plan in terms of his best options to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
DS: How should Bangladesh best take advantage of their depth in the lower middle order at the T20 World Cup?
AP: I don't want to give away too many secrets (smiles).
DS: How crucial is the number three spot in T20? What are the team's demands from a number three in this format?
AP: Every batting position from 1-8 is important because these are the guys ultimately responsible for getting the runs. If we're depending on No. 9,10, or 11, then we're in a bit of trouble. In terms of roles, the top four obviously require more adaptability because you may come to the crease in a range of different scenarios. 5-8 generally have to come in and be aggressive almost immediately.
DS: Despite Shakib's success at the number three position in ODIs, he has not always featured at that position in T20s? Do you feel Shakib needs a fixed position at the T20 World Cup?
AP: With his all-around skills, Shakib will always be a very important player for Bangladesh and I'm sure he will play a massive role with bat and ball at the T20 World Cup. However, for me there always has to be flexibility in the line-up. Hypothetically speaking, if we have a left-right opening partnership and the right-handed batsman is out first, do we want two lefties at the crease or do we want to continue with left-right? These are minor details that go into planning where the flexibility of the group comes in.
DS: Do you see Afif coming in to bat earlier in T20Is?
AP: Introducing the right guys into the match at the right time is always a balancing act. Afif will play a massive role at this tournament. He is still young, but another that I think can become a big player on the international stage.