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Shakib: 'The wicket was more difficult than the Australia series'

Bangladesh batter sympathises with team-mates' plight on spin-friendly surfaces

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Shakib Al Hasan plays a cover drive, Bangladesh vs New Zealand, 1st T20I, Dhaka, September 1, 2021

Shakib Al Hasan says focusing on singles and twos can help batters in tough conditions  •  AFP/Getty Images

Shakib Al Hasan didn't sugarcoat his words about the pitch at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, where New Zealand were bowled out for just 60 and Bangladesh needed the better part of 15 overs to overhaul that meagre target.
"I think the wicket in the first match was more difficult than the Australia series," he said. "I think we still bowled very well. They naturally struggled as they are not acclimitised to these conditions."
Bangladesh beat Australia 4-1 in early August on pitches that aided spin. Pace bowlers who bowl a lot of cutters, like Mustafizur Rahman, also found a lot of purchase. And while the team has been highly successful at harnessing these conditions, there is a worry that it is having an adverse effect on the batters and their confidence especially with a T20 World Cup so near.
As a veteran in the world of cricket though, Shakib knows a thing or two about adapting to troublesome situations. "Picking up singles and running between the wicket must be in focus in these conditions," he said. "It is hard to find boundaries but if you are in a positive frame of mind, singles and doubles make it easier. It releases the batsmen's pressure.
"When he is set, it might be possible to score some runs, taking advantage of a few loose balls. But at the end of the day, these are tough conditions for the batsmen. They are going through a challenging situation in these pitches."
Regardless of that, Shakib maintained that Bangladesh's seven wins in their last nine T20Is will stand them in good stead ahead of a global event. And there is precedent here. Back in 2007, Bangladesh went into the 50-over World Cup with 18 wins in their last 24 matches and they rode that high all the way to the Super Eights.
"I think it is important that we are winning regularly ahead of the World Cup," Shakib said. "I remember that we won a number of matches before the 2007 World Cup. It helped us. I think these wins will improve our team's confidence ahead of the World Cup."
Shakib has come a long way since those days. Now considered one of the greatest allrounders to have played the game, the 34-year old is closing in on becoming the highest wicket-taker in T20Is.
"An achievement is always great but I don't want to focus on personal goals. These will fall into place as I continue to contributing for the team. It is good to hear I am near or have achieved a milestone. It inspires me to do better."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84