Prankster Shawon unfazed by big stage

Saleh Ahmed Shawon is fidgety, unlike the mostly calm Nazmul Hossain Shanto or the bright-eyed Bangladesh Under-19s captain Mehedi Hasan Miraz. The left-arm spinner is the Bangladesh team’s prankster, making wisecracks and keeping everyone cheerful, while at times, by his own admission, being the victim of his team-mates’ pranks. Despite his antics, Shawon has been the team’s leading wicket-taker since January last year, with 53 dismissals at 16.01 in 30 matches.

He doesn’t look at one person for too long and his hands are constantly fidgeting, but he did stand still for the duration of the press briefing. The bowler has also started to like the big stage, and draws motivation from the crowd cheering his name.

“I always try to keep my team-mates amused, I joke around, especially when I see someone down,” Shawon said. “I try to poke him, ask him what’s wrong. And they, too, have fun at my expense. I also find a lot of motivation playing in front of a crowd where they are calling out my name and cheering us. Maybe some people take it as pressure, but I like it.”

While bowling, he has the run-up of a front-on bowler but slides into a side-on action and flights the ball consistently. He has set himself a target of finishing as one of the leading wicket-takers in this tournament, although he admitted his primary job was to keep the runs down.

“In team meetings, we have been told to keep the runs in check,” he said. “I don’t go for wickets. I just want to keep it to 20-25 in my ten overs. [Getting a] Wicket is a matter of luck. We think that our bowling attack can defend a score like 240, which will be hard for any opponent in any condition.

“My target is to be among the top five wicket-takers in the tournament, or if possible the highest wicket-taker.”

Shawon stated that in a bid to keep the players under less pressure the team management had told them to approach the World Cup in set of two three-match series. Personally, though, he doesn’t seem too nervous about the big stage.

“We are looking at it as a series, not a World Cup. We shouldn’t be tensed about playing a World Cup, that’s what our captain and vice-captain have told us ahead of the tournament,” he said. “We have divided it into two three-match series. So we have the three matches in the group stage, and three in the knockout. If we can win six, we can win the World Cup.

“It is not really possible to think this way but it is about believing it yourself, you get what I’m saying?”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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