Shakib Al Hasan remained optimistic of Bangladesh securing a spot in the semi-finals of the ongoing World Cup, after they beat Afghanistan in Southampton to collect their third win of the tournament.
“It will be difficult, but we have the belief that we can play well in the next two matches and get the result,” Shakib told reporters, after Bangladesh’s 62-run win. “That’s all we can do at this moment. We have to look at the other results as well, but first things first. We have to play two very important matches and get the results in our favour.”
Bangladesh moved ahead of Sri Lanka, to fifth position, and are currently just a point adrift of hosts England, who are fourth-placed. Their next fixture is against India, a side they famously defeated in the group stages of the 2007 edition.
“Experience [of defeating India in 2007] will help, but experience is not the end of the world. We have to play our best cricket in order to be able to beat India,” Shakib said. “They’ve got world-class players who can take matters on their own hand. As I said, we have to be at our best, and I believe that we are a capable enough team.”
Shakib has been the hero of Bangladesh’s campaign thus far. He is currently leading the batting charts, with 476 runs. His excellence has extended to his left-arm spin, too, which has fetched him 10 wickets in six games, including a five-wicket haul – his first in World Cups – against Afghanistan, which derailed their chase of 263. Before that, he struck 51, and alongside Mushfiqur Rahim (83), hauled Bangladesh to a healthy total.
“I did prepare well, but I never felt that I had a point to prove,” Shakib said. “I did everything I could do before the World Cup started for my preparation and, luckily, it’s been helping me a lot.”
Gulbadin Naib, the Afghanistan captain, whose side slipped to their seventh successive defeat in the tournament, lamented the missed chances on the field that negated any assistance the surface may have had in store for his spinners.
“I’m happy with the toss, but if you look at the match, we missed a couple of catches and gave some extra runs through misfields,” he said. “We gave around 30-35 runs. If you see that, maybe the total is not that much. The wicket was slow, and it was good for batting, so we looked to start well. But praise goes to Shakib. He bowled really well. Because of misfielding, we missed the opportunity again.”
Naib also conceded that the fielding lapses have hurt the rhythm of their chief bowler, Rashid Khan, who is having a sub-par tournament by his white-ball standards. Rashid has taken only four wickets in seven games, and has leaked runs at over six an over. After returning the worst figures in a World Cup game, when he was tonked for 110 runs against England, Rashid again went wicketless against Bangladesh.
“He’s trying hard. He’s giving his 100 per cent,” Naib said. “He is also disappointed about the fielding. We gave away extra runs. He missed his moment because of the fielding.
“One time, he was very angry in the field. If we are not fielding well, he’s also upset. Rashid is one of those players, he’s trying in every department. We gave away extra runs, and Rashid looked very upset.”