Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan believes his side should start as favourites in the ODI series against Pakistan later this month, and said it was their best chance to beat the side on home soil.
Shakib, who left for Kolkata on Thursday, will be playing the first two games of IPL 2015 for his franchise Kolkata Knight Riders before returning home to play against Pakistan. Pakistan are likely to arrive in mid-April with a new-look side, without the retired Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi.
“I will start training from tomorrow,” Shakib said. “I will only play two matches in the IPL so the Pakistan series will be on my mind. If I do well in the two matches, that confidence will work in my favour.
“I think we should be starting as favourites to win the ODI series against Pakistan. I think this is our best chance to win against Pakistan. Everyone in the team believes so, too. We have proved that we can beat any team at home. If we play our best cricket, we can do well against any side. We beat New Zealand seven times, and they are the World Cup runners-up.”
Bangladesh have won only one in 32 games against Pakistan, with the sole victory coming in the 1999 World Cup. The teams have played two bilateral ODI series in Bangladesh previously, apart from a single game in 1999, with Pakistan winning all the matches. The forthcoming tour, involving two Tests, three ODIs and a T20, has had its share of controversies with an impasse between the concerned boards over revenue-sharing.
According to Shakib, 2015 will be a critical year for Bangladesh’s ODI prospects, especially with a 10-team World Cup looming on the horizon. Bangladesh are currently ranked ninth with 76 points, after gaining only one point following the World Cup. They are scheduled to take on Pakistan, India, South Africa and Australia this year.
“It is a very important year for us since it will be a 10-team World Cup next time. We need to go up the rankings,” he said. “If we can win against higher-ranked sides, we will get more points.
“Ultimately we have to stay within the top eight to play in the World Cup. We have been around No 9 and 10 for a long time. We got up to No 8 for a brief period, but now we have to get to that level and stay there.”
Shakib also felt his performance in the World Cup could have been better as the tournament wore on, after he made two fifties in the first three games but only totaled 35 runs in his last three innings. He also took eight wickets at an average of 37.25, giving away runs at 5.16 per over (compared to an overall rate of 4.30).
He was impressed with the Bangladesh newcomers and urged them to keep performing rather than learning at the highest level.
“There is no end to performing better. I think I did well in the World Cup. If I could have ended the tournament like I had started, it obviously would have been better,” Shakib said. “Still, I don’t think I should be disappointed about the numbers next to my name in this World Cup.
“I thought the new players did well. The team performed, which is the most important thing. Soumya, Sabbir and Taskin played well. The senior players were also up to the mark. The team is in good shape. The young players have to perform, not to be taught.”