'Series win is always the target'
After a day of rest on Monday, the Test stars in the Bangladesh ODI squad joined their teammates for a practice session of high intensity yesterday afternoon at the R Premadasa International Stadium in Colombo.
The whole squad, minus opener Tamim Iqbal and all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan who decided to take the option for a break available to the Test players, assembled at first inside the cavernous Premadasa. Fast bowling coach Courtney Walsh first got them together and had some words, then fielding coach Richard Halsall fired them up before Test skipper Mushfiqur Rahim ended the discussion with a few words of his own.
14 players, including pacers Abul Hasan and Mohammad Saifuddin, who have come to the island just for the practice game and are not part of the ODI squad, then took part in a rapid fire fielding session. Two bowlers who played the Test and are in the ODI squad, Mustafizur Rahman and Subashis Roy, were at the ground but stood in the shadows watching their teammates.
Sufficiently pumped up, the Tigers then hit the nets at the Max Cricket Academy just outside the main ground. ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who has recently recovered from a thumb fracture sustained during the New Zealand T20Is, seemed to have adjusted well enough with Colombo's sapping heat and was bowling near full tilt. Mushfiqur, Soumya Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman were the first batch of batsmen taking guard in the nets, followed by Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah Riyad and Mosaddek Hossain.
"As we had a rest day after the Test, the intensity will have to increase because we are adjusting to a shorter format," said Soumya Sarkar as the practice session was winding down. "Also the turnaround time is little. Here, cheeky singles and tough catches are the order of the day. That's why the intensity was higher among everyone; to adjust to the shorter form."
As he spoke, Walsh was standing in one of the nets with a disembodied shoe in front of him, positioned on leg stump around two yards in front of the wicket. Fast bowlers Taskin Ahmed, Abul and Saifuddin were running up and trying to hit the shoe, and when they did the West Indian legend applauded heartily. A few minutes ago Soumya himself was bowling his occasional military medium and had hit the shoe twice in a row.
"I am trying to contribute with the ball along with my batting," said Soumya when asked if there was a team plan to employ him more regularly in the ODI series. "So hopefully, if I get a chance I will try to prove myself. It will be good for me as well as the team."
As part of the team that drew the two-Test series by winning the country's historic 100th Test against the hosts on Sunday, Soumya was asked whether they were more confident about their chances ahead of their favoured ODIs, or whether he thought that Sri Lanka would be a more difficult proposition in the shorter form.
"The target is always to win series. We have three matches and we will want all three matches to go our way. The way everyone is playing, if we can all give our best, then the result will come our way.”
He also added that he was trying to get out of the habit of scoring half-centuries and getting out, having hit three on the trot in the Tests without converting a single one into a hundred.
"I have to find out where the problem is and how to ensure that I can finish in a big way. It has happened only two or three days ago, so I don't think the solution can be found so soon. But it will be good for me if we can find it as soon as possible."