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Analysis

BPL blueprint serves Shanto proud as Bangladesh achieve statement win

Influence of domestic tournament plain to see as homegrown matchwinners come to fore

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
09-Mar-2023
Najmul Hossain Shanto played fluently for a 27-ball fifty  •  Getty Images

Najmul Hossain Shanto played fluently for a 27-ball fifty  •  Getty Images

It is commonplace for players from India, Pakistan and Australia to feed their form, confidence, planning and attitude from tournaments like the IPL, PSL and BBL into the international game. That has hardly been the case for Bangladeshi players and the BPL. The nine editions to date haven't produced many players organically, neither have they influenced the playing style or confidence that Bangladesh's national side has carried into T20Is.
Najmul Hossain Shanto and Towhid Hridoy have bucked this trend for once. The pair reproduced their Sylhet Strikers' form and partnership in the first T20I in Chattogram, resulting in Bangladesh's maiden victory against England in the format. The BPL ended less than a month ago, with many of its top performers picked in this Bangladesh squad. The policy has paid dividends in several aspects of this win.
Shanto was the BPL's leading run-getter with 516 runs at an average of 39.69, with four half-centuries. Hridoy made one more fifty, scoring 403 runs at a strike-rate of 140.41. They put together 466 runs in 12 partnerships, with one century stand, the best in the BPL this season.
At 43 for two in the sixth over, chasing 157, Bangladesh really needed Shanto and Hridoy, on debut, to keep the run-rate up on a pitch that, as England had discovered, got trickier as the ball got older. Shanto responded by hitting Mark Wood, England's fastest bowler, for four consecutive boundaries in the seventh over.
Shanto went on to hit his third T20I fifty in four matches, following on from the two he scored against Zimbabwe and Pakistan in the T20 World Cup last year. He was the team's top-scorer in that competition, and has now carried that form through the BPL and the ODIs against England.
"I have been scoring regularly, which allows extra confidence," Shanto said. "Game awareness gets better. I had a better understanding of building my innings. I wasn't given a specific plan. We just tried to continue with the momentum from the openers. We stuck to a normal plan, reacted to the ball. We tried to apply the way we batted in the BPL. It was nothing different than that."
Shanto added that Hridoy's confidence at the other end also helped him play his shots. Hridoy struck two fours and a six in his 17-ball 24, but like Shanto, looked full of confidence from the BPL. "[Hridoy's] approach and intent, in his first international match, gave me a lot of confidence. He never got nervous playing against such a big team. We just batted the way we batted in the BPL, where we had some big partnerships."
Shanto said that he hadn't planned to go after Wood, but focused on finding the gaps, and it all came together. "There was no pre-planning. I reacted to the ball. I tried to use the gaps, which is obviously why I could find the boundaries," he said.
Even the opposition noticed how well Shanto played, arguably changing the course of the game with his quickfire fifty. Phil Salt said that Bangladesh completely aced the 157-run chase.
"Shanto played very well in the chase," Salt said. "I think the openers set the chase up very well for them, and I think in the middle they played really well. I think the lads that were in for them, they found a way of getting a boundary early in the over quite a lot of the time. I think they ran pretty well as well. So, they'll be sitting in that dressing-room right now, thinking that's as close to a perfect chase as they'd have wanted these conditions."
Shanto said that he sensed that Bangladesh were slowly coming into control of the game from the midpoint of England's innings. The visitors added only 76 runs in the last ten overs, after they had rushed to 80 for 1 in the first half.
"The way we made the comeback in the last ten overs [of the England innings], that gave us the confidence" he said. "Then we started well with the bat. We knew that two more partnerships will get us close to the win."
Bangladesh's fast bowlers - who only gave away 21 runs in the last four overs - were instrumental in turning their fortunes around, not least Hasan Mahmud, another star of the BPL, whose 17 wickets for Rangpur Rangers had been the joint-most in the competition.
"He bowled an important spell. I think his BPL performance gave him confidence today," Shanto said. "Hasan Mahmud, Taskin Ahmed and Mustafiz bowled really well in the last few overs. They played a big role in closing them down on 156 for 6."
Bangladesh have been a poor T20I team for a long time, but the recent T20 World Cup offered them some timely confidence after they won two games in the competition for the first time. Shanto scored key runs, Bangladesh won some close games, which all added up to their increased self-belief.
The talk of impact, a watchword in the latter half of 2022, has finally come through for them. "The batsmen were given freedom in this series," Shanto said. "Impact can't happen quickly. It takes time. It depends on wickets, conditions. I think the batsmen have a lot more freedom, and soon there will be more impact."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84