Nafees on learning curve
Man-of-the-match Shahriar Nafees admitted he had to temper his natural game to amass an unbeaten 123 in Bangladesh’s 101-run ICC Champions Trophy win over Zimbabwe at Jaipur.
The 20-year-old opener was dropped on nought by Elton Chigumbura but went on to make the highest score ever by a Bangladeshi in one-day cricket, surpassing his own 118 not out against the same opposition in Harare in August.
The early scare revealed unexpected demons in the pitch, which prompted Nafees to rein in his attacking instincts.
He said: “I like to play strokes but this wicket was not permitting that. It was double paced and the bounce was not even, so I just tried to bat as long as possible and allow myself and team to score as many runs as possible.
“I think I scored my first 50 in about 100 balls. Then my plan was to bat as long as possible.
“I was trying to be there until the end since I saw the way the wicket was behaving and I was the set batsman.”
The Bangladesh total of 231 for six proved far too much for Zimbabwe, who struggled against the Tigers’ spinners, with Abdur Razzak, Mohammad Rafique and Saqibul Hasan claiming seven wickets between them as they dismissed the opposition for 130.
It was a vast improvement on Bangladesh’s previous performance, which saw them lose to West Indies by 10 wickets.
And even though the match carried no significance, with both sides already having been eliminated from the competition, captain Habibul Bashar believes the victory was important for his team.
He said: “We really needed to win this game to go back with at least one win. This makes a big difference for us.”
Bashar admitted the pitch had not played as well as his team expected.
“Before the game, we had thought 250-260 batting first was a good score,” he said. “But, as the match went on, we didn’t really set any target. We just went on how the game goes.
“There wasn’t much dew today and that really helped us. Rafique, Razzak and Saqibul did a terrific job for us.”
The first match of the tournament saw Bangladesh get within 37 runs of Sri Lanka’s imposing total of 302, and Bashar believes his side are not far away from being able to compete with the major nations.
He said: “I think we are going in the right way. We just need a bit more consistency in our batting and bowling.
“Everything happened as per plan and, yes, we need to compete against the big sides as well.”
Zimbabwe skipper Prosper Utseya admitted his side were never really in the game.
He said: “We were out of the game early but, when the spinners came on, we struggled more. The batsmen were not able to apply themselves.”