Habibul Bashar: Bangladesh's win is the best gift in the new year

Former Bangladesh captain and current national selector Bashar feels the players should not get carried away by the success and should aim at winning the series in New Zealand.

Former Bangladesh captain Bashar feels the players should not get carried away by the success and should aim at winning the series in New Zealand.   -  AP

At Mount Maunganui on Wednesday morning, Bangladesh created history with a stunning eight-wicket victory against New Zealand, thus ending the Black Caps’ 17-match unbeaten run on home soil.

The incredible moment for a young Bangladesh outfit to stun the World Test champion side boosted the team’s confidence for the remainder of the Test series.

Watching the proceedings from his home in Dhaka, former Bangladesh captain and current national selector Habibul Bashar rates this performance as the ‘best gift in the new year’. “This is a huge achievement for us in Test cricket. We did not have a memorable outing in the last few Test series. Also, this is an almost new team as some of the seasoned campaigners like Tamim (Iqbal) and Shakib (Al Hasan) were unavailable. Even though our top-order was slightly inexperienced, we fought bravely,” Bashar told Sportstar.

READ| Ebadot takes six as Bangladesh beats New Zealand in first Test

Fast bowler Ebadot Hossain claimed his career-best 6-46 in the second innings to turn the tide.

Earlier, batters Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, captain Mominul Haque and Liton Das scored half-centuries in the first innings to help Bangladesh flex muscles. “Throughout this Test match, we played excellent cricket. Be it in batting or bowling, the Bangladesh players delivered in every session. It is a huge advertisement for Bangladesh cricket. Being a cricket fanatic country, this win means a lot for the fans here. This is the best gift in the new year,” Bashar said.

READ| Mominul hails Bangladesh’s ‘unbelievable’ win over New Zealand

In his stint as the captain of Bangladesh, Bashar had changed the dynamics, and under him, the team beat India in the 2007 World Cup opener. 

Bashar said it was a challenge for the current selection committee to pick the right squad for an all-important New Zealand side. “It was a huge challenge. We had to take some risks at the top-order and pick someone like Joy, who does not have too much experience in international cricket. But we were impressed with his style of play, and that’s why we decided to pick him for the New Zealand tour. He was untested, but he played brilliantly and proved his worth,” Bashar said.

“The selection committee was clear in its thinking that we have to try out the youngsters so that we can give them a longer rope. The New Zealand trips have always been challenging for us as we have not enjoyed too much success there. But the boys deserve full marks for the way they performed in the first Test.”

Bashar feels the players should not get carried away by the success and should aim at winning the series. “I would advise the boys to take it easy. Over the past few years, we have been working hard to improve our standards in Test cricket. One of the major reasons behind our low success rate in red-ball cricket is the fact that we did not have too many wicket-taking bowlers, which is a must to win games. When we play at home, our spinners bowl beautifully, but in overseas conditions, they have often struggled. So, it was important to work on our fast bowling department and we have been working on that for a while now,” the former Bangladesh captain added.

“We are slowly reaping benefits. The bowlers showed some glimpse of their brilliance, which is a huge sign for us. If we can maintain this standard, we can definitely improve in Tests…”

Ever since breaking into the Test arena in 2000, Bangladesh has witnessed success in white-ball cricket at home. But in a bid to improve the track record in red-ball cricket, efforts are now being taken to better the quality of the wickets at the domestic level.

“We still have the tendency to prepare turning tracks when we play at home. But now, we are trying to change that approach in a bid to produce more players. Traditionally, when we started playing, the focus was mostly on white-ball cricket, but now, we are trying to make first-class cricket more competitive and that’s why we want to improve the quality of the wickets at home,” Bashar said.

The cricket board and the selectors want to ensure the transition phase happens smoothly when some of the top players retire. “Every country goes through a transition phase. It is not possible to instantly replace someone like Shakib. So, we want to put our money on the youngsters now itself, so that they can spend time with the seniors, learn from them and slowly fit into the system. The target is to prepare them well before our icon cricketers leave. That will help us handle the transition phase better…”

The fans will be only hoping for a series triumph from hereon.

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