T20 World Cup 2024: Bangladesh Skipper Najmul Calls for Better T20 Wickets at Home

Najmul, who was appointed as the all-format captain in February at the young age of 25 to replace the newly turned politician Shakib Al Hasan, attributed their shortcomings to the unsuitable home pitches that do not favor the high-scoring matches typical in the 20-over format elsewhere.

Bangladesh can only hope to improve its lackluster T20 World Cup record once it secures better pitches at home, as stated by the new captain Najmul Hossain Shanto in an interview with AFP ahead of the prestigious tournament.

Being one of the nine countries to have participated in all T20 World Cups since its inception in 2007, Bangladesh stands alone in never having progressed to the knockout stage.

Najmul, who took over the captaincy across all formats in February, emphasized the impact of playing on conducive wickets, stating, “First of all, we have to play on good wickets. Some people can take it as an excuse, but it is really a fact that we play very few matches on a good wicket.”

Bangladeshi pitches are notoriously low-scoring, with only one player in their World Cup squad, top-order batter Towhid Hridoy, boasting a T20 international strike rate above 130.

“It is difficult to change things in six months. If we continue playing on good wickets for one or two years, then these strike rates will improve,” Najmul added.

Despite being ranked ninth, Bangladesh has shown signs of improvement in the shorter format, securing series victories at home against cricket powerhouses such as Australia, England, and New Zealand in recent years.

However, setbacks like the 2-1 defeat to the USA in a three-match warm-up series in Houston serve as a reminder of the challenges ahead.

“We have won a few series and we have won against big teams,” Najmul stated optimistically before the USA series. “The confidence of the team is in a good position. The matches we have played recently, if we can replicate that performance in the World Cup, make proper decisions, and execute our plans effectively, then achieving something significant is possible.”

This year’s T20 World Cup, commencing on June 1 in the United States and the West Indies, may mark the end of an era for some of Bangladesh’s stalwart players.

Najmul’s predecessor Shakib, still the top-ranked T20 all-rounder, made a brief appearance in this month’s home series against Zimbabwe but had not played a 20-over international for nearly a year prior.

Shakib, aged 37, entered Bangladesh’s parliament in January, hinting at an imminent retirement along with fellow all-rounder Mahmudullah Riyad, aged 38.

“Of course, I want them to play in the World Cup, giving their best,” Najmul expressed his sentiments. “It is their decision when they will end their careers. As a captain, I would like them to share their experience with every player.”

Bangladesh faces a tough challenge in their group with formidable opponents like South Africa and Sri Lanka, alongside Nepal, appearing in only their second T20 World Cup, and the Netherlands.

Their campaign kicks off in Dallas on June 7 against Sri Lanka, with whom Najmul’s team has developed a competitive rivalry since last year’s ODI World Cup.

Their encounter in India sparked controversy when Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews became the first-ever batsman to be timed out in international cricket.

During a tour of Bangladesh in March, Sri Lanka’s players revived the dispute by celebrating their T20 series win with gestures indicating time on their wrists, prompting Najmul to accuse them of not moving on from the Mathews incident.

“We have already moved on,” Najmul asserted when questioned about any lingering resentment. “Since the day the incident happened, we have not done anything that would make us dwell on it. I cannot speak much about them, but as a team, we are focusing on our own game.”

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