Saifuddin: 'It was a childhood dream to bat with Shakib bhai and win a game'
The allrounder reined himself in during an unbroken 69-run stand with Shakib to help Bangladesh seal the series
Mohammad Saifuddin has said that he had to rein himself in during the unbroken 69-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Shakib Al Hasan in the second ODI against Zimbabwe on Sunday. Saifuddin contributed 28 not out off 34 balls, helping Bangladesh seal the series with one match to spare.
Saifuddin is usually an attacking lower-order batter but with Bangladesh 173 for 7 in a chase of 241, he played conservatively. He scored only one boundary during his innings, via an inside edge to fine leg.
"There was a lot of pressure, but I felt I was prepared," Saifuddin said. "I tried to stick to the process. We needed around 70 runs at that stage. It was a childhood dream to bat with Shakib bhai and win a game for the country. I was happy to get such an opportunity, and tried my best to make it as memorable as possible.
"I didn't play any big shots. I defended loose balls for the sake of the team. Shakib bhai supported me a lot. His presence gave me confidence. We knew that picking up the singles would lessen the gap, and we can ultimately win the game."
Saifuddin is largely picked as a new-ball bowler but he has always insisted that he wants to prove himself as a batter. He has two half-centuries in ODIs, but his batting isn't rated as highly yet by the team management.
"I don't always get the chance [to bat], but I wanted to prove my worth as a batsman," he said. "Obviously, I don't want anyone to get out, but I tried really hard yesterday. I think I could prove myself. I am happy that I could contribute to the team's cause."
Bangladesh have now won the first two ODIs thanks to contributions from their lower-middle order. In the first match, after Mahmudullah combined with Liton Das for a 93-run stand, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Afif Hossain and Saifuddin had stepped up in the slog overs.
"Small partnerships and little contributions make all the difference, and it was proved in the last two matches," Saifuddin said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84