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September 20, 2012
Mushfiqur Rahim, the Bangladesh captain, has said his current side is better than the one that beat New Zealand 4-0 two years ago in a home one-day series; the teams meet again on Friday. The reason for Bangladesh's improvement, Mushfiqur said, was the rise in the number of match-winners in the side as opposed to just Shakib Al Hasan previously.
Mushfiqur said Shakib a freer role to play and is not burdened with too much pressure. Shakib has been Bangladesh's highest run-getter and wicket-taker in Tests and ODIs since the October 2010 ODI series win while also playing a role in Kolkata Knight Riders' maiden IPL triumph earlier this year. But, in recent times, Mushfiqur, Tamim Iqbal, Abdur Razzak and Mahmudullah have also played major roles in Bangladesh's successes.
"To compare this team to the one in 2010, I think this has more balance and a few more match-winners. So in that way, this is a better team," said Mushfiqur said on the day he completed a year as Bangladesh captain."He [Shakib Al Hasan] is our best cricketer. Probably in the last two years a couple of the guys have also put their hands up so he's quite free in his role and not under too much pressure to perform. And not just with bat and ball, he is always helping out on and off the field as well. His presence means a lot to our team."
Shakib played a pivotal role in those four wins against New Zealand, leading the batting and bowling charts and also captaining the side after Mashrafe Mortaza got injured in the first game.
Mushfiqur, who is familiar with tracks in Sri Lanka, having played a couple of games during the Sri Lanka Premier League, said the team composition would depend on the nature of the pitch. He added Bangladesh would employ "special plans" to counter the threat of Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor, who've been part of the IPL. "They are both very important and we have special plans to contain them. The bowlers have to strike at the top order to win games, so it's nothing out of the ordinary."
Mushfiqur was aware New Zealand will not be playing with the baggage of their humiliating defeat two years ago. "That [4-0 win] happened two years ago and this is a Twenty20 game, a different format. And it is a totally different setting as there are several players in both sides who weren't around in 2010. But New Zealand have a lot more Twenty20 experience compared to us," he said.
In order to get Bangladesh well prepared for the World Twenty20, the BCB paid for their tour of Zimbabwe where they played in unofficial matches against the hosts and a South African XI led by Hashim Amla, beating each side once. They then travelled to Ireland and the Netherlands where they won four out of six Twenty20 internationals. Subsequently, in Port-of-Spain they won against Barbados and Afghanistan.
An extensive preparation bodes well for Bangladesh's World Twenty20 and though Mushfiqur would have liked to have test his side against higher-ranked teams, he believed they learned a lot on the road. "We played in different situations and conditions. Everyone has had a good hit. It would have probably been better if we played against major teams, but still we played some competitive matches but now we are at the business end, so hopefully it'll go really well."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala