After Bangladesh's tight win over Afghanistan in the first ODI, Shakib Al Hasan said that the team now have the belief that they can win ODIs even when circumstances are not always in their favour. At the same time, he added that the side must improve its body language and fielding for a better performance in the rest of the three-match series.
"I think the turning points were when I conceded one run [in the 47th over] and, before that, the breakthrough I made [in the 41st over] when they were getting a big stand," Shakib said. "Actually our job is not to think; our job is to do it. We have to keep believing that we can win this game, and that belief was there. Because we were playing after almost a year, it was difficult for a while. It was in the body language. Our fielding wasn't that good. This will get better soon.
"The most important practice is to stay in the game and to play the game. No matter how much you run or practice, match fitness is something else altogether. When you keep playing matches, things become a lot easier. No matter what situation you try to create at practice, it won't reach that level."
Mahmudullah, who scored 62 and added a brisk 40 with Shakib for the fourth wicket, said that Bangladesh ought to have beaten lower-ranked Afghanistan far more convincingly than they did. However, he noted that the side is gradually starting to win more close games.
"I think that in such a situation, we should definitely win the game. With all due respect to Afghanistan, we should have won the game a lot earlier considering the difference in our rankings. We have lost a lot of close matches due to small errors. I think that is slowly starting to change."
Mahmudullah also rued his own untimely dismissal, perishing to a miscued slog sweep off Mohammad Nabi; he had wanted to bat till the last three overs before cutting loose.
"I wasn't thinking about the century. I was just trying to take advantage of the wicket, as the ball was coming on to the bat nicely in the last Powerplay. I wanted to stay till the 48th over and then go for the big shots but I picked out the one extra fielder they had outside the circle. I should have carried on a little while longer."
Bangladesh's defence of 265 was made trickier by the rusty form of their returning quicks, Taskin Ahmed and Rubel Hossain. Taskin was returning to international cricket for the first time since his suspension for an illegal action in March. Rubel was playing his first ODI since July 2015. Both bowlers were expensive in their initial spells, before improving thereafter. Shakib said that it was a struggle for them to play after a long break, but praised the way they pulled it back towards the end.
"Rubel returned from injury and Taskin returned from suspension, so it was difficult for both," he said. "At the start they didn't do well but in the last three overs, they were solid."