Liton-Tanzid find the right cue from warm-up win
Over the course of the last 12 months, the highest stand by a Bangladesh opening pair had been 102 that Liton Das and Tamim Iqbal had notched. Without Tamim in the World Cup squad, and amidst the ongoing form concerns of openers ahead of the World Cup, youngster Tanzid Hasan and the formidable Liton finally found the runs they needed under their belt ahead of a huge tournament during the first warm-up fixture against Sri Lanka in Guwahati yesterday.
Bangladesh's opening partnerships have averaged just a tad above 20 across the last 10 ODIs. Yesterday, in chase of the Lankans' 263, the two openers strung together a 131-run stand, the highest in the last two years.
With Mehedi Hasan Miraz – a makeshift opener – the only backup at the moment, the way the two openers began with composure reflected the confidence the team management had projected on them, especially through Tanzid's selection.
Liton had been struggling over the course of a year, averaging just over 24 in ODIs across 20 matches.
Both openers played well within themselves at the start of the chase, perhaps taking a cue from how the Lankan openers had begun the previous innings. With not much movement on offer for the bowlers, the left-right combination remained organised.
What both had in common was allowing the ball to come to them, Liton exhibiting that trait to particular effectiveness, putting away deliveries on his legs, even waiting for the movement before flicking Kasun Rajitha for four. Tanzid slashed one through the off-side to get things going before coming up with a controlled pull for another four. Once set, he looked like he had all the time to pull Lahiru Kumara for four.
Once Liton got the start, the familiar strokeplay came, hitting a spinner over extra cover for four. That seemed to settle him and amidst some streaky boundaries, he reached his fifty in just 39 deliveries. Liton fell after a 56-ball 61, laced with 10 fours.
Tanzid missed out on a ton, falling after an 88-ball 84 but he would look to carry on that momentum into the tournament proper.
Tawhid Hridoy fell for a duck but Miraz struck a 64-ball 67 with Mushfiqur Rahim unbeaten on 35 in an unbroken 76-run stand to take Bangladesh to a seven-wicket win with eight overs to spare.
Shakib Al Hasan sat out the game but he had high hopes about the opening pair.
"I would expect just one thing from them [Liton and Tanzid] which is that on the day that they get a start, they win the match," Shakib had said during an exclusive interview with T Sports recently.
The captain and team management have kept the instructions simple for the opening pair and with some momentum, the top-order too would find some relief if both openers carry on with some consistency.