cricket:image:1433074 [900x506]
cricket:image:1433074 [900x506] (Credit: BCB)

White Sox bring 3-game losing streak into matchup against the Orioles

Captain Najmul Hossain Shanto and coach Chandika Hathurusinghe are concerned about Bangladesh's batting, but that hasn't led to any late changes to the T20 World Cup squad. As a result, Litton Das has survived despite scoring just 79 runs in his last six T20Is, all played this year.

Litton's T20I form had dipped so much that he lost his place in the side after scoring 1, 23 and 12 in the first three T20Is of the five-match series against Zimbabwe. His last innings ended when he missed with three consecutive attempts at scooping Blessing Muzarabani, dragging the ball on to the stumps off the last one.

"Litton is a very important player in our team," Shanto said in a press interaction on Wednesday. "He hasn't had a good time recently. It can happen to any cricketer. But we didn't want to bring in a new player for such a big event. We valued Litton's experience. I wouldn't have dropped him.

"We were already discussing our World Cup team combinations during the Sri Lanka series. We wanted to be prepared by playing matches at home but the success in those matches was subjective. We were clear that we won't change anyone only because he did badly in these home matches.

"We didn't bat on good wickets in the T20I series [against Zimbabwe in Chattogram and Dhaka]. We had to go on and off from the ground due to rain in some of the matches too. But Litton and I should score runs in every game. We have clarity in the team, so we hope we will deliver at the World Cup."

Hathurusinghe admitted that the top and middle order didn't combine as well as expected against Zimbabwe, but felt there were occasions when they did fire to win games - they won the series 4-1, after all.

"We managed to get a good start in some matches, and when we didn't get a good start, we managed to finish strongly in some matches," Hathurusinghe said. "So everybody got an opportunity to bat in the middle, that was a positive. Yes, individually, some of the players would have loved to spend [more] time in the middle, score runs, but in T20 cricket, anything can happen because it is a very different game to the other two formats.

"We would love our top order to score all the time - in that kind of scenario, it takes a lot of pressure out of the other players. I am confident that - we have five matches leading up to the first game - we will be able to get those areas of concern sorted."

Bangladesh will play a three-T20I series against T20 World Cup co-hosts USA at Prairie View later this month and then the warm-up fixtures.

'Want to give Mahmudullah and Shakib good memories'

Both Shanto and Hathurusinghe said that the batters should take inspiration from Mahmudullah. The senior batter, who is part of the 2024 squad, was dropped ahead of the 2022 T20 World Cup but returned to the fray just before the 2023 ODI World Cup, in which he was Bangladesh's best batter. Mahmudullah has struck two fifties in T20Is this year in his familiar finisher's role and had just one failure, a first-ball duck in the third T20I against Sri Lanka.

"He's been playing regularly. He made a strong comeback. Lately he's playing his best cricket," Hathurusinghe said. "He's changed his approach to batting a lot. His role is going to be in the middle order, probably be the enforcer in the middle as well as a finisher role, which he has done remarkably well lately in all formats, in the domestics as well."

Shanto said that he was looking forward to Mahmudullah and Shakib Al Hasan, the most experienced cricketers in the squad, to share their experience with the other players.

"The team is benefiting from [Mahmudullah's] role in the batting line-up, at No. 5 or 6," he said. "It gives the team an extra advantage. He is an inspiration for the youngsters. He has shown how to come back from such a tough situation.

"We want to give them [Mahmudullah and Shakib] good memories at the World Cup. It is our responsibility as the younger players. I want them to perform their normal roles but, at the same time, if they can spread their experience with the rest of the team, it will help us."

'Taskin is our leader of the pack in fast bowling'

Bangladesh are also hoping that their new vice-captain, Taskin Ahmed, gets fit in time to have an impact - Taskin was included in the squad despite a side strain.

"Taskin is our leader of the pack in fast bowling," Hathurusinghe said. "The rules of the tournament allow us to carry someone [reserve players], and then we can make a decision. We are giving him the best chance to be fit to play.

"Taskin is a very important member for us. He's a leader. That's why he's the vice-captain as well. We have the best medical and recovery procedures in America so we are going to use those resources and then give him the best chance of be fit for the first game."

Despite the question mark over Taskin, Shanto believes the bowling attack can win them games at the T20 World Cup.

"We have a much improved fast-bowling department," he said. "There's a higher possibility of winning a T20 match if the bowling unit does well. We are also likely to play in conditions that may aid spin, so given our variation, they should also do well. Bowling is our strength."

At the 2022 T20 World Cup, then captain Shakib and the coaching staff led by S Sriram had overseen a new, fearless approach from the players, which gave Bangladesh two wins. They have struggled at global tournaments on the whole, though, but Hathurusinghe is being quietly optimistic.

"I understand that we have high aspirations as a country. We have been playing good cricket generally out of the ICC events," Hathurusinghe said. "As players and coaches, we also have high expectation. The first step is to get through this difficult group stage. We are in a very strong group so getting out of it is the main target."

Bangladesh are in Group D, with Nepal, Netherlands, South Africa and Sri Lanka, and start their World Cup on June 8 with a fixture against Sri Lanka at Dallas' Grand Prairie stadium.