Shakib’s misplaced aggression
The way Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan handled questions related to tactics in the pre-match press conference today -- ahead of Bangladesh's T20 World Cup opener against the Netherlands tomorrow -- became a testament to the notion that the Tigers have miles to go before they become a formidable side in T20s.
While teams all over the world allow their most in-form batter to play the maximum deliveries, Shakib became ultra-defensive when asked if Bangladesh are open to the prospect of Liton Das opening the batting.
"Do you think we will win the match if Liton opens the innings," Shakib countered with a passive-aggressive reply.
As white-ball cricket, especially the T20 version, keeps establishing itself as a batter-friendly game, it's obvious that failing to find a stable opening batting pair has been a continuous source of headache for Bangladesh. Heading into the ongoing mega event, the Tigers tinkered with four different opening combinations in as many games in the tri-series against Pakistan and hosts New Zealand.
Quite surprisingly, no games in the tri-series featured Liton as an opener, who has been the leading run-scorer for Bangladesh in 2022 as the stylish right-hander scored 417 runs in 14 T20I innings this year, with an impressive strike rate of 139.46. And of those 14 outings, Liton opened in five games and scored 155 with an even better strike rate of 150.5 -- all of which happened in July this year, against the West Indies at home and Zimbabwe away.
When a few of Liton's impressive outings this year as an opener were brought forward, coupled with the fact that none of the batters tested at the top could perform, the Bangladesh skipper's reply was also uncalled for.
"You should be in the position of the decision maker, given the way you are saying," replied Shakib with his signature smirk, and the Bangladesh skipper did not end up addressing the question on cricketing terms.
How the Bangladesh captain answered the most generic questions, raised eyebrows further. Asked if being a captain is a challenge, Shakib chose to start his reply with:
"It's amusing that you think that there is a challenge. I have nothing to prove," said the Bangladesh skipper, who then went on to mention that Bangladesh have never done well in the format.
From the aforementioned remark, it appears that the Bangladesh skipper's mindset is programmed in such a way that he is prone to take things personally by default, even when questions or criticisms are aimed towards the team in general.
At the press conference, the question surfaced regarding whether Shakib and Co consider the media as an opponent.
"This is something which you all can better tell. Let people judge, but I don't prefer to judge too much. I am only focused on the team, and everyone in the team is focused on how to do well in the match and win."
Now it remains to be seen if Bangladesh can make their presence felt in the World Cup with 'impact cricket' against the Netherlands tomorrow or will Shakib's impact be restricted within the confines of the press conference.
Bangladesh's records in the T20s have been lacklustre and today's press conference arguably hints that a lot of the problems might have stemmed from the mentality of personnel bestowed with leadership roles.