Mushfiqur lauds Shanto's leadership qualities: 'It was a one-man show tonight'

"Shanto is the sort of guy who has the mentality to take responsibility as a challenge"

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mushfiqur Rahim crafted a big fifth-wicket stand, Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Chattogram, March 13, 2024

Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mushfiqur Rahim crafted a big fifth-wicket stand  •  BCB

When Najmul Hossain Shanto reached his century in Chattogram, Mushfiqur Rahim charged towards him with a big smile on his face, and arms raised. This was Shanto's second century as Bangladesh captain, coming shortly after the BCB declared him as their main man across formats.
Shanto is an agent of change at a pivotal time in Bangladesh cricket. Coach Chandika Hathurusinghe backs him and by the looks of it, so do the senior cricketers currently in the team.
Shanto added 69 runs for the fourth wicket with Mahmudullah and 165 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket with Mushfiqur, who said that Shanto steps up as a batter with added responsibility.
"Shanto thoroughly deserved the century," Mushfiqur said. "He was excellent. It was a one-man show tonight. I think leadership brings out the best in some individuals. Shanto is definitely one of them. He really enjoys the captaincy. Shanto is the sort of guy who has the mentality to take responsibility as a challenge. I knew that he would score runs at the highest level.
"Atmosphere is very important. We don't worry about the outcome. We try to keep our processes intact. We don't expect all seven batters to get centuries every day but as long as he sticks to his strengths and practice routines, it was just a matter of time."
Mushfiqur said that Shanto has grown as a batter as he now makes the best use of good starts. He was impressed by how Shanto managed to play after reaching the century. "He batted very well today. He plays more fluently. He can be more dominating. He used to get 50s or 60s after getting a good start but now he is playing long innings.
"The way he took a single to mid-on so easily just after getting that hundred, it showed that he was so calm and thoughtful towards the team. We kept telling each other that we should keep getting the next 20 or 30 runs, so that they don't get a sniff in vital moments."
Mushfiqur also credited Mahmudullah for his run-a-ball 37 that set the tone for Bangladesh's chase after they lost three early wickets.
"We had a good partnership but the real work was done by (Mahmudullah) Riyad bhai and Shanto. The ball was new so they could swing the ball. The dew hadn't taken full effect. We lost early wickets too. Shanto and Riyad bhai ensured we were always ahead of the required run rate because of their partnership. They made life easy for me.
"It is called experience. After that big over, he struck Hasaranga down the ground for a six. When you put the opposition's best bowler under pressure, they have a lot to think. They allow singles rather than going for wickets, which allows the partnership to go big. Experience is really a big thing. Shanto struggled at the start but this is a partnership game. First credit for this win must go to Riyad bhai, for showing the intent," he said.
Mushfiqur himself played an important hand, particularly in the way he handled Sri Lanka's main bowler, Wanindu Hasaranga. He took 29 runs off 25 balls off the legspinner, who has not yet got this batter out in eight innings in all formats.
"When you play a bowler for a long time, you feel confident against him. The opposite also happens. I have been able to pick him. Hasaranga is a really good bowler, so I want to ensure he doesn't have much impact on the game. The more I play against him, I feel more comfortable.
"When you face a wrist spinner, he will bowl you a flipper, googly, legspin and top spin. You can't always pick it from the hand. Sweep is a good option to have. You have to sweep against the good ball. If you can execute it well, it puts pressure back on the bowler."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84