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Mashrafe: Liton’s best yet to come

  • Published at 11:04 pm September 25th, 2018
Bangladesh's Liton Das does catching practice during training. Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

In the absence of Tamin, Liton was endowed the responsibility of providing the Tigers a good start and he only had rookie Nazmul Hossain Shanto in the other side as opening partner

Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza thinks believing in Liton Das’s ability and giving him chances despite some of his failures bore rich fruit as the batsman is stepping up for the Tigers.  

Bangladesh faced a big setback in the opening match of the Asia Cup when their premium opener Tamim Iqbal was ruled out due to injury. 

In the absence of Tamin, Liton was endowed the responsibility of providing the Tigers a good start and he only had rookie Nazmul Hossain Shanto in the other side as opening partner. 

In their first assignment, the match against Afghanistan in the group stage, both failed miserably as Liton scored six and Shanto made seven. 

In the next match, the first Super four game against India, again the Tigers made a poor start as both the openers were dismissed for seven runs each. 

Shanto kept on the unwelcomed continuity as he got out for six in the second Super four match against Afghanistan but Liton finally proved his selection worth as he made 41 off 43 that at least saved the Tigers from an early catastrophe. 

Although the batsman failed to capitalise on his start, at least he got his confidence back by playing some nice shots before the crucial Pakistan encounter that will take place today in Abu Dhabi.  

Both the sides have one win and a loss so far in the Super Four and today’s winner will face India in the final Friday.

Mashrafe said the time could not have been better for Liton to gain confidence.

“I will hope that he (Liton) has gained his confidence back. He scored 41 in 43 balls under a tough situation. He dealt with the Afghanistan spinners well and had set a beautiful innings. This has been a result of keeping trust in him. That fact that the team are supporting him (despite failures) has helped him to overcome the challenges and strengthen his mentality,” said Mashrafe to the media at team hotel in Dubai yesterday.

With that said, chances are likely in the game against Pakistan for Bangladesh to change Shanto and bring in opener Soumya Sarkar to open with Liton. 

There are questions as to whether the left-handed batsman Shanto was given enough opportunities as he made his ODI debut in this tournament and has played only three matches so far. 

Mashrafe has explanations for that too.

“Our job was to keep trust in him and we did that. We are looking for openers and that is why we are giving enough chances to them. No one can complain I believe. Bangladesh cricket is now at a point where you have to think twice before giving a player opportunity but still I think we are giving enough chances to the openers. (Anamul) Bijoy played seven matches this year. Liton had come in place on Bijoy and got four games to play,” the skipper explained.

The last time Bangladesh played an ODI against Pakistan was in 2015. 

The Tigers not only won that bilateral series 3-0 but also started a brilliant voyage that saw them beat two other powerhouses - India and South Africa - in consecutive series to transform them from perennial minnow to a force to be reckoned with. 

Ironically, Soumya scored a whirlwind 127 off just 110 balls in the third game to beat Pakistan by 10 wickets. 

However, Mashrafe thought Pakistan team have changed a lot ever since and become a much tougher side now. 

“This Pakistan team are far better than that (2015). They didn’t have strike bowlers like Hasan Ali or Shadab Khan. Now they have a sharp bowling attack and a good batting side. You cannot judge them with the two defeats against India (in the Asia Cup). They have played very well recently but it does not mean that we cannot play,” said Mashrafe.