Shakib Al Hasan has asked the Bangladesh cricket community not to expect big things at the Asia Cup, starting later this month, saying that the team was looking for consistency in the T20 format over the long-term.
"It is difficult for us [to think about making the Asia Cup final]. If we can show a bit of improvement from what we have done in the last year-and-a-half, it would be an achievement," Shakib said in his first press interaction since becoming T20I captain. "We should make it to the Super 4s [they are grouped with Afghanistan and Sri Lanka], but I feel that if we can't achieve targets that we set before a tournament, you will tell us that we talk big but can't achieve targets. Let us keep our targets in the dressing room. I don't want to discuss it here."
The last - and only - time the Asia Cup was played as a T20 event, Bangladesh finished runners-up to India, but their recent form has been quite ordinary: they have won two out of their ten matches since the T20 World Cup last year.
"We don't have to change the way we play cricket but it is important that we use our resources properly," Shakib, who was appointed captain earlier this month, not long after becoming embroiled in a controversy over his endorsement of a betting company. "I believe that we are a good team and we have done it before. We have to play well consistently. We have to start winning, and if we don't, we have to push it to the last couple of balls.
"People should understand that we will improve by being competitive. It can't be like now, when we are losing in the first innings or within ten overs of the second innings."
Shakib said that rather than hoping to win the Asia Cup, the expectations should be about improving in the format in the next four years.
"We can't be sure if this is the last time we hear about a new start. But if we don't try, we will never know that it is possible. We had to start something at some point. Better it happens now"
Shakib Al Hasan
"We want the improvement graph going up. Even if we become the Asia Cup champions but we don't do well in the T20 World Cup, it doesn't really count," he said. "We must focus on steady improvement, so that we can be one of the best teams in the World Cups in 2024 and 2026. India have not won the T20 World Cup since 2007, but they are always among the favourites. I think being that is more important."
Bangladesh's batting unit has fallen apart with alarming regularity in the format in recent times, while the bowling faltered in the recent 2-1 loss against Zimbabwe. Shakib admitted that he was concerned about their fielding, too, an area he believed the team could improve on with a change in attitude.
"[Catching] is definitely a concern. I don't think we have ever been a good fielding unit. It is disappointing," he said. "If we have to improve, we need to change our mindset. Fielding is one area you can improve overnight, but if there's fear, it can have a negative impact on you. There will be misses. The best of the fielders have missed catches. But it is important how much you enjoy fielding.
"It will reduce the percentage of failure, but we have to make sure we reach the ball and try 100% to take that catch. Sometimes we start late and we can't reach a catch. That's more disappointing, rather than the catch being dropped. Your desire to go under the ball in time is paramount. Within five to ten days, we can improve significantly if we can change this attitude."
"I can't deny that it [starting fresh again] shows [the failure of the team]," Shakib said. "We can't be sure if this is the last time we hear about a new start. But if we don't try, we will never know that it is possible. We had to start something at some point. Better it happens now.
"We will be holding a lot of meetings with the coaching staff in the next few days. We have a new coach around as well. Everyone will have their opinions but we should have one goal when we come out of the dressing room. Not that everyone has to believe in the goal but we have to back it fully."