Bangladesh determined to develop big-hitting skills with an eye on 2024 T20 World Cup
Coach Chandika Hathurusingha wants his players to bat like they do in the BPL
On the eve of the first T20 international against England, several Bangladesh batters were gathered around one of the centre wickets at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. There was laughter, shouting, and balls flying in different directions. The acoustics of the Chattogram venue lets you hear what is being said in the middle from the sidelines, and it became apparent the players were taking part in a game where the batter had to keep hitting sixes to continue batting.
As Shakib Al Hasan hit one towards the long-on boundary at the media centre end, the rest of the group comprising Litton Das, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Afif Hossain, Shamim Hossain, Towhid Hridoy and Rony Talukdar burst into laughter and rushed towards their captain. They were saying that Shakib had failed to clear the boundary and so had to let the next batter have a go. Shakib was having none of it, waving them back and smiling sheepishly. You can't really win against Shakib on a cricket field, can you?
That fun exercise was part of Bangladesh's larger endeavour to become a more proactive and big-hitting T20 unit. They haven't succeeded yet, but with the next T20 World Cup a little more than a year away, they have the time to do it. Their new coach Chandika Hathurusingha joined in the action in the middle for a while to observe what was happening, and said later that he wants the players to bring what they do in the BPL to the international stage.
"I am very open to see what we can do," Hathurusingha said. "I expect players to do the same thing that got them selected. So go and show in the international level against the world champions, for them to understand where they are at, and for us to understand whether we are better than them in our conditions or they are better than us. Good opportunity for us to see our skillset in T20s."
Towhid Hridoy and Rony Talukdar were among those who impressed Hathurusingha in the nets, but he wants to see what they do in match situations.
"I have seen Rony before. I remember he played one game against South Africa. I can't remember if he got injured or some other people started doing well," Hathurusingha said. "I am actually very interested to see what he can do."
Hathurusingha, who re-joined Bangladesh as head coach last month after a six-year gap, , said he had observed an overall improvement in the team, despite losing the ODI series to England 2-1.
"It is a good start. I was impressed with certain areas. The fast bowlers did well in not so helpful conditions. Their discipline and understanding of the game, especially Taskin and Ebadot, stood out. I was happy with the fielding effort. I think we out-fielded England. I have observed a few things that we can get better at in batting.
"We have to be the best fielding side in Asia. We can't compare with others, but we know where we need to get to. Young legs on the field definitely helps fielding. They are faster, energetic. Hridoy is one of the really exciting fielders."
Still, T20 cricket is mostly about runs, and Bangladesh are still a long way from being a legit big-hitting side. Hathurusingha believes a lot depends on physical power - an area Bangladesh have traditionally struggled with - but batters can develop a good swing and base to improve their hitting ability.
"Power is a big factor," Hathurusingha said. "But you need to have good mechanism like good swing, good base. You can get little better but if you have power, it gives you a head start more than others."
Bangladesh play England in the first T20I in Chattogram on Thursday, followed by two game in Mirpur on March 12 and 14.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84