Najmul Hossain Shanto, whose sizzling fifty propelled Bangladesh over the line in the first T20I against England in Chattogram, believes the Tigers, who in 2021 beat both New Zealand and Australia in bilateral T20Is at home, should now capitalize on the head start and close the series out against the World Champions.
England entered the first game as overwhelming favorites despite missing a few key players but on the night, they were stunned by a spirited Bangladesh unit. After winning the toss, Bangladesh first restricted the Three Lions to 156/6 and then chased the target down in sensational fashion, getting over the line with two overs to spare.
On the back of the win, Shanto asserted that the victory will be a huge confidence booster and attested that the series is there for the taking for his side.
"They are one of the best teams in the world, so the win will give us a lot of confidence. We will slowly build our team, like the ODI team has been doing well," Najmul told reporters post the first T20I.
"Winning the first match will give us a lot of confidence, but we must start afresh in the second game. There will be new plans but the motivation and thinking will change after this game. We should win the series from this position. We have to play well on that particular day.”
157 was still a stiff target on a slow wicket, but Bangladesh made easy work of the same thanks to a fine fifty from Shanto. Batting at No.3, the southpaw got off to a blistering start, racing to 27 off 12 balls after smashing four consecutive boundaries of Mark Wood, and the momentum he injected provided the side with the confidence and impetus it needed to knock the target off.
Post match, he said he merely reacted to each ball and revealed that he’s taken confidence from his showing in the T20 World Cup, where he finished as Bangladesh’s top run-getter.
"I wasn't given a specific plan. We just tried to continue with the momentum from the openers. We stuck to a normal plan, reacted to the ball. We tried to apply the way we batted in the BPL. It was nothing different than that,” Shanto said.
“There was no pre-planning. I reacted to the ball. I tried to use the gaps, which is obviously why I could find the boundaries.
"I have been scoring regularly, which allows extra confidence. Game awareness gets better.”
Shanto further said that he took confidence from the showing of debutant Towhid Hridoy who, picked on the back of a fine BPL season, sparkled with a brisk 24. Together, Shanto and Hridoy added 65 runs off just 39 balls.
"His (Towhid) approach and intent, in his first international match, gave me a lot of confidence. He never got nervous playing against such a big team," said Nazmul.
"We just batted the way we batted in the BPL, where we had some big partnerships.
"The way we made the comeback in the last ten overs (of the England innings), that gave us the confidence. Then we started well with the bat. We knew that two more partnerships will get us close to the win.”
The 24-year-old, whose fifty on Thursday was by some distance his quickest 30+ score in T20Is, revealed that newly appointed head coach Chandika Hathurusingha has given the batters plenty of freedom.
"The batsmen have been given freedom in this series. Impact can't happen quickly. It takes time. It depends on wickets, conditions. I think the batsmen have a lot more freedom, and soon there will be more impact.”