Afghanistan T20 series very important for 'less experienced' Bangladesh
Bangladesh, in a bid to improve on the number of T20I matches they play over a calendar year, are all geared up to face Afghanistan in a three-match T20 series in Dehradun. The Shakib-Al-Hasan-led team has quite a few players who have been playing against the best in the business for quite some time now, however, the shortest format of the game has always been a puzzle they have failed to decipher.
Currently, they are placed 10th on the ICC T20I rankings, two ranks below their next opponents. In an attempt to find out whether Bangladesh cricket is moving in the right direction and the importance this T20I series against Afghanistan holds for the sub-continent team, Sportskeeda talked to Habibul Bashar, Bangladesh selector and one of the greatest cricketers to have emerged from the country.
Q. Is Bangladesh Cricket moving in the right direction and what is the way forward for the team?
I think it is (moving in the right direction). In the recent past, we've been performing well in all the formats. Maybe we are a bit behind in T20s when compared to the other two formats as we have taken time to get used to the format. But now you can see that the team is finally clicking and the performance in Nidahas Trophy was a proof of that. To be consistent, we need to perform like that in every T20 series. BPL is getting stronger as well and surely Bangladesh will be a team to reckon with in the T20 as well shortly.
Q. How important is the Afghanistan series for Bangladesh in the long run?
If you look at the current Bangladesh team, apart from Shakib and Mustafizur, not many of our players get an opportunity to play franchise cricket. As an international team as well, we don't play many T20 games. Therefore it is very important for us to play as many T20 games to gain experience. And so this series is very important in the lead-up to the WT20.
Q. How have Afganistan managed to rise as rapidly and do you see any similarities between the Bangladesh team of early-2000s and the current Afghanistan side?
Afghanistan has a lot of raw talent. People like Rashid, Nabi and Mujeeb, they are just raw talents, no one can make them, they just came out of nowhere. Definitely they've got talent as we can see their achievements as well. They're performing and improving in every format.
Even the Afghanistan football team is way forward than those of India, Bangladesh or Pakistan. In every sport they're very good. They're a proper sporting nation now. So it's very hard to say how and why they've risen as rapidly but we have to accept that they have some really good talent.
As far as Bangladesh is concerned, when we used to play, people didn't want to choose cricket as a profession. Even my parents didn't want me to be a cricketer. But now we can see a lot of talent coming up and people actually want to become cricketers. A lot of players who can be game-changers are coming up in B'desh now as well.
Q. What are your thoughts on Mustafizur Rahman hiding his injury?
It's all part and parcel of the game. I don't agree with the theory that playing too many games in IPL affects players. It's a sport where you can get injured and it's all a part of it. I don't think it's a big issue.