‘I had the belief that I could score big’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 22, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:18 AM, April 22, 2021

‘I had the belief that I could score big’

A batsman springing up and punching the air before kissing their helmet and raising the bat towards a clamouring crowd or applauding teammates is a very common scenario in cricket after a batsman reaches the most-desired three-figure mark. Celebrations become even more rigorous if the ton is a maiden one.

However, no such celebrations were seen from Najmul Hossain Shanto after he reached his maiden international century with an exquisite drive through extra cover for a boundary off a Dhananjaya de Silva delivery.

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Shanto remained unbeaten on 126 off 288 deliveries to help Bangladesh amass 302 for two and finish the opening day of their first Test against Sri Lanka in Kandy on top.

"I had the belief that I could score big. So I did not think of it [the century] as something to be very excited about. I need to bat tomorrow and [I'm thinking of] batting long. I will play a lot of matches in the future if I stay healthy and get opportunities. So I do not think it is something to be very excited about," Shanto said about his landmark score at the post-day Zoom presser yesterday.

Shanto's post-century calm reflected the demeanor that was a constant feature of his innings yesterday. Shanto walked in after Bangladesh had lost opener Saif Hassan in just the second over of the game, with pacers still getting movement off the pitch.

Not only did he have to tackle the initial pace and swing from the Lankan pacers, the left-hander had to put aside all the pressure of not being able to score runs in recent series. After all, Shanto had faced tremendous backlash after scoring a total of just 40 runs in his new number three position in the four innings played during the Tigers' last Test series against West Indies earlier this year.

What changed from the last series to this? Shanto explained: "I was mentally relaxed a lot [more than I was during the West Indies series]. I did not think about scoring a lot of runs. I just enjoyed my batting. I played each ball according to its merit. I did not think about how many balls I faced or how many runs I scored," Shanto added.

The left-hander also thought yesterday's knock was the result of the hard work he had been putting in over the past few months.

"I don't think I had anything to prove [through the century]. I believed in myself, that I could score runs. I worked hard the last five-six months. Maybe I did not get the result [right away] but I had the belief that I could score big. So I don't think I had anything to prove," the 22-year-old said.

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