Shanto acknowledges support following ‘special’ knock
Following long-sustaining scrutiny, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) selectors would feel at ease with the impact Najmul Hossain Shanto made on Sunday as they have kept banking on one of their biggest investments to put away Bangladesh's opening woes in the T20 World Cup.
Bangladesh won only their third Super 12 match in T20 World Cup history following a narrow three-run win at the Gabba on Sunday and, on yet another tame effort with the bat, it was Shanto's maiden T20I fifty that managed to guide Bangladesh to a competitive total of 150 that the bowlers managed to eventually defend successfully.
The left-handed batter hit seven fours and a solitary six on way to a 55-ball 71. Along the way, the 24-year-old strung a 53-run stand for the third-wicket with skipper Shakib Al Hasan to motor the innings.
"This is my best innings [in T20s] because it was my first fifty. It's very special," the opener said post-match.
Despite a rather sluggish start, Shanto managed to up the ante -- scoring 21 runs in 10 deliveries -- after reaching his fifty in 45 balls before he skied one up to short mid-on. Prior to his dismissal, Shanto focused on sneaking singles and doubles as Bangladesh managed 71 runs between the overs seven to 15, and in the following over he struck three of the eight boundaries he played in his knock, including a six.
"I didn't think about the strike rate. I saw the ball and played accordingly. I didn't have any thoughts regarding my strike rate," the batter said.
The under-fire batter has come under intense scrutiny ageing back to his inclusion as a backup opener before the World Cup as he scored 128 runs in six outings with an unimpressive strike-rate of 104.92.
The BCB, however, has backed the player, who has come through the hierarchy of Bangladesh's cricketing system by placing their faith in his undeniable talent.
On Sunday, it seemed that the faith had paid dividends as the batter, who was ruled out by many, managed to shut some of his fiercest critics, and that too, with a stand-out performance.
"It would be a mistake to say that I was under a lot of pressure because the team management, the captain, and the senior players were all behind me. Everyone had been supporting me," revealed Shanto.
The Tigers technical consultant Sridharan Sriram on Saturday came out with all the support for his openers during the pre-match press conference, where he assured that 'the opening pair was settled' and would be given the learning opportunity to improve their craft.
He also addressed the importance of the impact from top-order batters making the most of their starts and Shanto delivered as soon as possible.
"I didn't look to do anything new. I had been getting starts but couldn't take it further. It was on my mind that if I do get a start, I would make my innings bigger," Shanto informed further.