‘Run for cover’ on the agenda as Shakib leads range hitting session
It was all about ball watching in the stands today as Bangladesh geared up for the first T20I against England tomorrow at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram.
Shakib Al Hasan was at the centre of proceedings at the vibrant session. The Tigers' T20I skipper was sharing tips with young spinners in the team like Nasum Ahmed and Tanvir Islam at nets and was also later seen in discussion with pace bowling coach Allan Donald.
Liton Das and Rony Talukdar were batting at the nets and once they finished, they walked towards Shakib, who was perambulating near the centre wickets.
The most interesting part of the session was the range hitting that went on, rendering people not only at the field but also journalists in the stands, looking for cover. Head coach Chandika Hathusingha was in a groovy mood and as a joke, signalled to one of the journalists to wear a helmet instead of taking pictures.
It quickly became apparent that ball watching would be part of the work process for the journalists covering the session in order to not get whacked by the ball. After Liton and Rony joined Shakib, the skipper turned coach and gave instructions to both batters on how to go about range hitting, having impressed immensely in the past two BPLs himself with his own ability to clear the boundary ropes.
Of note was Shakib's tips on the movement of the back leg to allow Liton and Rony to get under the deliveries better and hit the deliveries towards long on or long off. Soon a mini competition arose with six batters coming in to the centre wickets.
Shakib along with Liton, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, Rony and Afif Hossain took turns to play one delivery each at one of the centre wickets before rotating the strike. It quickly became apparent that hitting a six enabled one to play an extra delivery.
Shakib was in a vibrant mood himself, joking with the batters as they took turns. He hit quite a few sixes and when there was a close one that just about reached over the fence, the likes of Shanto and Liton tried to take the mickey out of the captain arguing it was not a six. Shakib excitedly argued back with 'it's a six, Shanto said so at first', to raucous laughter from the rest. Shakib soon cleared the ropes and raised his hand over his head in celebration. It was clear he enjoyed the moment.
Rony was soon able to hit two in a row and Shakib quickly took it form him as if it had some lucky charm on it. The fun and laughter continued at the field while Nurul Hasan Sohan was hitting some big ones from the nets near the dressing room entrance with a few reporters seeking cover from the balls coming in to the stands.
Liton perhaps did not quite get the connection he wanted during the fun range hitting session while Afif, who also found it difficult, finally got some bat in one to clear the ropes. Towhid started getting his sight in and making them fly, continuing on his BPL form.
Shamim Hossain was the last one to arrive at the centre wickets to join the others after his net session at the media end came to an end.
Head coach Hathurusingha was seen watching the net sessions before he talked to chief selector Minhajul Abedin.
Shakib then told the thrower he wants to hit one towards long off and signalled where to put the delivery. Since he was trying to power through towards that general direction where Chandika was talking, he called out: "Hathu bhai!". He then said 'coach, hey coach' to get the Sri Lankan's attention so that he moves away along with the chief selector. Shakib's hit however found Donald at long off, who clutched onto it casually, leading to a reaction from Shakib regarding how close he was to getting the connection he wanted.
Shamim found right connection on one as it sailed over long on before the session soon came to an end. The T20I squad has a new look to it with some new faces and some returning to the team. It will be a new journey in the format that the Tigers find the hardest to deal with. Thus, range hitting was the confidence booster than Shakib and Chandika might have wanted to deal with in the very first official T20I session as England awaits.