Shanto emerges as Tigers’ New hero

Bangladesh pulled off a brilliant chase of Ireland’s 319, winning by three wickets, with Najmul Hossain Shanto hitting his maiden ODI ton in Chelmsford on Friday.

Shanto’s maiden ton, Towhid Hridoy’s vital 68 and Mushfiqur Rahim’s sensible finish helped Bangladesh pull off their second-highest chase in the fifty-over format.

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The 24-year-old left-hander could not quite finish the job, holed out at deep square-leg with none other than Harry Tector, the other hundred-getter in the match taking the catch but his 93-ball 117 had held the innings together, adding 61 with Shakib Al Hasan and 131 with Hridoy.

From being a constant subject of ridicule on social media to becoming the toast of the town, Shanto has seen it all. 

‘I prioritise keeping a smile on my face’

As the Bangladesh team management often mentioned, the 24-year-old batter has always had the ‘potential and talent’ but could never really come through and prove his worth, until recently in the past few months.  

Shanto has always been the one the Tigers’ team management looked up to, someone in whom the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) had invested, and at times, labeled him to be the ‘future leader’ of the team. And Shanto finally started paying dividends by making statements in a way that is unique considering the Bangladesh context.

More often than not, Bangladesh batters come up with sporadic performances — the bare minimum that bails them out of hot water. However, Shanto has emerged as a consistent performer for the national side and also in the domestic circuit for a while now. 

Shanto looking to ‘set a high standard’

The 24-year-old was the highest run-getter for Bangladesh in the T20 World Cup and followed that up by becoming the player of the tournament in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).

The left-hander then ended as the highest run-getter for Bangladesh in their historic 3-0 T20I series triumph over England, amassing 144 in three matches with two not outs in the 40s and a third fifty in the format. For his efforts, Shanto was adjudged the player of the series against England. He also scored two fifties against England in the ODI series.

“I think I have started to enjoy my game out in the middle and I am not thinking about the outcome,” Shanto told The Daily Star after Bangladesh-England series what has changed for him in the last few months.  

“I am living in the present, not worrying about what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future. I never tried to prove myself to anyone which I think would have put me under more pressure. I am working on my game continuously and trying to improve as a cricketer,” he added.   

Shanto continued his good form, making 25 and 73 in the ODI series against Ireland at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium in March but had poor outings in the T20I series and one-off Test match against the same opponents.

But his score of 44 in the first match, which was abandoned due to heavy rain, and a scintillating hundred in the ongoing three-match series against Ireland was only a testament to his impressive consistency.

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Imtiaz Hossain Nihal
Imtiaz Hossain Nihal

English Reporter

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