Shakib al Hasan, who played a pivotal role in Bangladesh's emphatic win in their opening World Cup match over South Africa, believes there has been a massive improvement in their game in the last decade.
A wonderful batting display led by the experienced duo of Shakib Al Hasan (75) and Mushfiqur Rahim (78), supported by eye-catching cameos from Soumya Sarkar (42) and Mahmudullah (46), helped Bangladesh post 330/6 after being asked to bat by South Africa captain Faf du Plessis on Sunday at the Kennington Oval. The bowlers then struck regularly to restrict South Africa to 309/8 and register a convincing 21-run victory over the Proteas.
Bangladesh had last defeated India and South Africa in the 2007 edition of the World Cup. Shakib feels much has changed in the last decade as now they are seen as serious contenders rather than just any team.
"It's been 12 years, so our cricket has come a long way forward," Shakib was quoted as saying by the ICC website after Sunday's match.
"Back then, it used to be good enough for the crowd if we played well. But not any more, they are not satisfied. They don't take defeat to any other team (lightly). This is the expectation level we've got in these 12 years. I'm very happy, but this is just the start of the tournament."
The Bangla Tigers have made massive strides in the game, especially the 50-over format in the last decade and a half. Their performance in multi-nation tournaments has improved by leaps and bounds and they are no more considered as minnows.
In 2015, they made their first-ever World Cup quarter-final and shortly before the ongoing tournament, they defeated Ireland and West Indies in a tri-nation series to win their first win in a multi-nation ODI tournament.
"Building up to this World Cup, we knew what sort of challenges we might face," Shakib said.
"So we prepared ourselves well. We were in Ireland, where we played really well against West Indies and Ireland. That gave us a lot of confidence and belief. There are so many things to prove in this tournament, and we are up to the challenge. The boys are confident, but at the same time, they are relaxed. They know we have the skill to beat big teams," he added.
Bangladesh will next face New Zealand on Wednesday at the same ground.
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