The rise of Najmul Hossain Shanto
Najmul Hossain Shanto is truly shining with his batting skills this year. He has been performing exceptionally well for Bangladesh in every format and has been consistent throughout. Among all the batters, Shanto has clearly looked a class apart.
While Najmul has been consistent in every format, his rise in the ODI format has been quite intriguing and worth looking at. Irrespective of the conditions, Shanto has found a way to score runs every time, even when no other batter has managed to support him.
Since the start of 2023, Najmul has had the most runs (518) for Bangladesh - and sixth overall among the top three batters - at an average of 43.16 and a strike rate of 84.36 in the ODIs. The southpaw has also amassed four half-centuries and a century in this timeframe. It seems like he has found his groove at the crease, and his teammates have also taken note of his ease and confidence.
“Shanto makes batting look very easy," exclaimed Mominul following Shanto’s historic twin tons against Afghanistan in June. "He can play all around the wicket. When you see him bat, you want to bat like him. I can't do that, the way I play.”
In the previous Asia Cup game against Sri Lanka, Najmul showed his class on a surface where most of the other batters from either side looked clueless. The wickets kept falling from the other end, but Shanto made sure to hold it tight from his end. A gutsy knock of 89 ideally depicted the kind of form and mindset Shanto is in at the moment.
Najmul bided his time early in the innings to acclimatise to the conditions, as his strike rate of 44 in the first 25 balls shows. He slowly accelerated and eventually ended up with a strike rate of 72.95 - the highest in the game among the batters to have faced a minimum of 15 balls.
Najmul made 54.26% of team runs alone in this rubber and ended up as the best batter of the game. Shanto shone while his teammates struggled against Sri Lankan bowlers, achieving a control score of 76%.
In the ODIs this year, Najmul Hossain has accumulated 18.93% of team runs - the highest among all. Out of 12 innings, Najmul has crossed the 50-run mark on five different occasions. Apart from Litton Das (6), no other Bangladesh batter has managed to cross it more times in this format.
Najmul Hossain Shanto always had the potential to be an all-format batter for Bangladesh for a long time. While he did display glimpses of his superior skillsets, Shanto could barely convert them into consistent performances. The team management tried to give him chances, but his inconsistency meant he was never a regular in the team.
Below is a short but clear summary of Najmul’s ODI career that proves the point made above. From his debut till last year, Shanto could score only 210 runs at an abysmal average of 14 and a strike rate of 60.86. This year, he has already made more than double, and his average has been more than triple.
After years of disappointment, Najmul has finally found his mojo, and he doesn’t look in the mood to stop anytime soon. The performances in the Asia Cup now and the World Cup later can cover all those years wasted by Najmul Hossain Shanto.