'I wanted to take them on' - Soumya
After scoring an unbeaten 88 which secured Bangladesh's seven-wicket win against South Africa, Soumya Sarkar revealed that he kept trying to pull the short balls since he was confident he had the mindset to take on the visitors' attack. Soumya said that he was not worried about the consequences, like getting out, but understood the need to prolong his good starts.
"I heard from somewhere that they will stop me by bowling bouncers," Soumya said. "I wanted to play at them, even if I got out. I wanted to get out of that mindset. I planned that no matter how fast they bowl and how much they try to bounce me, I just wanted to take them on."
South Africa's pace attack bowled eleven deliveries to Soumya that ranged between very short to just short of good length, but the batsman either managed to get on top of the bounce, or threw himself at a pull. He initially got mixed results as many of the balls fell short of the mid-off fielder after he failed to time it.
But later in the innings, after Soumya had crossed 60, he cracked a pull emphatically off Kagiso Rabada for four. It was a statement of intent that he later said wanted to deliver to the opposition attack. Soumya added that South Africa hardly gave him breathing space like he received from the Pakistan attack on his way to an unbeaten 127 three months ago. He rated this unbeaten knock higher than the century.
"Against South Africa, I have had to make a bad ball as they weren't giving away. Pakistan were giving at least one bad ball per over. This was a tougher knock. We were chasing a bigger total against Pakistan so we could plan accordingly. Small targets are always hard to chase. We have to change plans quickly. You have to start fresh after quick wickets. I will keep this innings ahead."
In the four innings after his maiden century on April 22, Soumya failed to bat for more than 47 deliveries or 70 minutes. He made 54, 34, 40 and 27, but got out trying to attack further. The BCB president Nazmul Hasan had mentioned the same to him during their meeting on Saturday, but Soumya said he has heard the exact same thing from everyone.
"Everyone says the same thing. Even those who are younger than me tell me, 'Bro, please finish your innings'. I have been getting used to this," he said. "I didn't do too many different things to prolong my innings. My target wasn't to score a 50 or a 100 but to finish the chase. I just wanted to play till the end."
Soumya said that he minimised the risk in his plan to play a longer innings. Bangladesh's poor start of losing Tamim Iqbal and Litton Das by the fourth over also contributed to his subdued start.
"I cut down one or two of my shots thinking that it might bring me a positive result. A big innings always brings relief. I started differently today but that was due to the circumstances. I think I faced just one ball in the first three-four overs. We had lost two wickets by then so I had to think fresh. I had thought earlier that I would play in my own way. But the two wickets changed my plans."
The other factor he feels helped was having Mahmudullah back in the team. Soumya and Mahmudullah added 135 runs for the third wicket that took Bangladesh within four runs of victory. The pair has already added three fifty-plus stands and Soumya said Mahmudullah understands his game the best, which helps them bat well together.
"Since the World Cup whenever I see Riyad bhai come to bat, I smile. I do that whenever I see him in the middle. Today I told him everything is fine. But what he tells me, I always take it seriously. He understands my batting very well."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84