There is hardly any cricketer in this country equivalent of Shakib Al Hasan on the field and there is not a single man who can be as effervescent as he gets in front of the microphone.
In the first official press conference of the World Cup at Hotel Sheraton yesterday, the Bangladesh captain was typically breezy in his responses and though not as quirky as Englishman Graeme Swann, the 23-year-old Shakib kept the show alive with his usual self.
“If I am good enough, I am old enough. If I can play at this level, I think I am good enough,” he said when asked how he would face up to more experienced sides, given that his side is one of the youngest in the tournament.
Shakib is certainly the youngest captain with Zimbabwe’s Elton Chigumbura being the second at 24. But the all-rounder is certainly unafraid of the opposition, the hype of playing at home, and the occasion.
“If we think of the tournament to be a big deal, then there’ll be pressure. It is just another cricket match where we play with bat and ball. There’s nothing extraordinary, nobody will be bowling at 180-190mph.
“The crowd supports us. Hosting the meet is a bonus for us. All players know the conditions better than anyone,” he added.
Shakib said the wins over West Indies, England, New Zealand and Zimbabwe over the last year and a half have given him belief that he can hope of bigger things. But Shakib, though a dream for the media, stayed realistic about his goals.
“We have to win at least four matches to win a place in the second round. It will be a bit difficult. I think we are capable of booking a place in the second round,” he said.
India, South Africa, England, the West Indies, the Netherlands and Ireland are the other teams in Group B, with the top four making it to the quarterfinals. Bangladesh start their campaign in Dhaka with the tournament’s opening game on February 19 against India, and also play two practice matches against Canada (on February 12) and Pakistan (February 15).
“We won’t lose confidence if we lose to a team like Pakistan but if we beat them, then we will certainly feel positive and confident,” said Shakib, the No. 1 all-rounder in the world.
He was also confident that Bangladesh could iron out the mistakes they had made, citing the Powerplay as one of the areas which would be different during the World Cup. “We have done well in the Powerplays in the last two series. The players have thought of it from a personal point of view and have worked on it during the Premier League,” he said.
With all the planning and media and sponsor commitments, Shakib is certainly a changed individual, a stark difference from the 2007 World Cup. “I had little responsibility [in 2007] but I have more now, but my playing role hasn’t changed. I still have to bat well in the middle-order, bowl a tight 10-over spell and field brilliantly,” he added.