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Match Reports,07 July 2015

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Pressure is off, can play naturally: Shakib

Acknowledging his poor form in the Super 10 stage, Bangladesh batsman hopes move up the order will bring a change in fortunes

Pressure is off, can play naturally: Shakib - Cricket News
Shakib hinted a return to one-drop for Sunday’s showdown against Pakistan.
For all practical purposes, Bangladesh is out of the ICC World Twenty20 2014. It has two matches left in Group 2 Super 10 action, against Pakistan on Sunday (March 30) and against Australia on Tuesday (April 1), but after two heavy defeats that has triggered great despondency within the camp, it is all but impossible for it to make it through to the semifinal.

Player-talk on the eve of matches and after defeats has tended to be negative, by and large. Shakib Al Hasan broke from the norm on Saturday, at least making the right noises even if the right moves have remained elusive for Bangladesh on the field.

“Mathematically, we probably still have a chance of a semifinal place. But it will be difficult for us to reach that phase by winning two games,” said Shakib, the former captain. “So at this moment, the pressure is off. We are hoping that it would give us the confidence to play our natural game. We didn’t perform well in the last two games, so the confidence is slightly less than before. But this is the beauty of T20s, you can turn things around any time. I don’t think any team can actually predict that they will win. I don’t think many people expected us to play in the semifinal, but we have reached the Super 10s which was our target.”

Shakib rued the absence of any momentum at all in the tournament, Bangladesh carrying scars of a shock defeat to Hong Kong in its last qualification match into the Super 10s and allowing the wounds to fester and foment. “Momentum is important in T20 cricket, without which life becomes difficult,” he said. “We have to bring back the momentum in our game. Everyone is training hard and it is a matter of time before we get the result. Probably it is too late, now that we have two matches left. But if we can beat one of the two big sides at this stage, you can call it an okay tournament for us. When we did poorly, we made it quite worse for ourselves. We should have played better, been more consistent.”

While talking about a sense of deep disappointment within the camp, Shakib was realistic enough in assessing his team’s chances against Pakistan. “It will be difficult against Pakistan, mainly because of their bowling attack,” he pointed out. “They are a good batting unit too, so we have a tough battle in our hands. We fought hard against them in the last Asia Cup (2012) and in this edition too (earlier this month). We lost to them, so we really want to change that.

“Everyone is very disappointed, those who are in the dressing room can tell you how much. Everyone wants to perform for the team. But somewhere, our processes have gone wrong. We have to rectify our processes in the next game.”

Shakib himself has had a bad run with the bat in the Super 10s, being dismissed first ball against West Indies and making only 1 against India. “I have played just three balls in the last two games. The dismissal against India was quite unfortunate, as the ball hit my inside edge and pad before hitting the stumps. The one against West Indies was a great delivery,” he said. “But there are areas for me to improve.

“I was batting at No. 3 for quite some time but before the World T20, the captain and coach came up to and said that Mushfiqur (Rahim, the captain) and I have to strengthen the middle order where the batsmen were not getting runs. This was the plan, because I have been regular at No. 3 since the last World T20. I would definitely prefer batting up the order, but only if the need arises,” Shakib said, hinting at a return to one-drop for Sunday’s Pakistan showdown. “When I was batting at No. 4 in the qualification round, I thought it was okay. Maybe there will be a change in that thinking. Batting at No. 3 gave me 15-16 overs, and it hasn’t changed much now.”

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