Bangladesh v Zimbabwe, 5th ODI, Chittagong

We have great balance now - Shakib Al Hasan

Cricinfo staff

November 5, 2009

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Naeem Islam paddles, Bangladesh v Zimbabwe, 5th ODI, Chittagong, November 5, 2009
Naeem Islam's cool trumped Bangladesh © Bangladesh Cricket Board
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Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh's captain, has praised his side for their versatility while again cautioning his batsmen about their repeated lapses in the face of adversity. Chasing 222 Bangladesh looked in trouble when Shakib got out at 105 for 5 but Mahmudullah and Man-of-the-Match Naeem Islam brought them back with a fighting partnership. It was an innings that received praise from Shakib and left Naeem very pleased at having contributed to Bangladesh's 4-1 series success.

"Our top order and middle order batsmen should be more careful," said Shakib. "Having said that there will be times when you have to rely on No's 7 and 8 nd that's the reason these two [Naeem and Mahmudullah) are there. I guess that's why our team is so balanced now. Even if the top order fails to capitalise we know that there are people who are match-winners. Mahmudullah won us a game in the West Indies and today it was Naeem's turn. I think that is the reason why our team looks so spirited in the field."

Naeem was the hero for Bangladesh, conjuring a one-wicket victory with an unbeaten 73 in which he exploited the Powerplays perfectly. He only had the last man Nazmul Hossain for company, with Bangladesh still needing 35 for victory, but pulled off the task excellently.

"He [Naeem] was positive throughout and that was the main quality of his innings," said Shakib. "He was also more determined than earlier matches which helped him. When we know that we have someone at No. 7who can provide support and can also make half-centuries that makes the job a lot easier."

Shakib admitted the mood in the dressing room was actually fairly calm as the last pair kept the runs ticking over. "Honestly speaking [Abdur] Razzak and I was discussing that just 25 is needed and three sixes ought to do it. That's exactly what happened," said Shakib. "With wickets tumbling at one end we thought if Naeem had most of the strike then it would be possible to pull this off and when [Chamu] Chibhabha came it we had a feeling that this would be the decisive over."

Naeem did just that, slamming the bowler for three successive sixes in the 48th over. "It is easier to hit the pacemen as there is pace on the ball," he said. "Against the spinners you have have perfect timing and you will need strength. That's why I fancied hitting Chibhabha."

As for batting with Nazmul, with the reputation of being a tail-end bunny, Naeem said a bit of history had led to his determination. "I had learned from a past mistake. There was one occasion when I had sacrificed strike while batting with the last man and we lost the game. Everyone told me that I could have won that match if I had ensured strike. So I was consciously trying to take as much strike as possible."

"His is a difficult role," said Shakib. "He doesn't get to bowl the full ten overs and he doesn't get 20-30 overs to bat. But if he makes the best of the opportunity he gets then that's wonderful news for our team."

Razzak, the left-arm spinner, was named Man of the Series for his 15 wickets. "I don't really think about the career," he said. "I prefer to set short-term targets. If I don't do well then I try to identify the problems. Thinking about the career is a bit tough for me."

His next priority was to play well in the Dhaka Premier League and work on certain things that he was not satisfied with in this series. "This is necessary to rectify those things because otherwise it will be difficult to survive against India and Sri Lanka," said Razzak.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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