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'Our cricket has come a long way over the last 12 years' - Shakib

After his team's memorable win over South Africa at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 on Sunday, 2 June, Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan reflected on the ever-increasing expectations from the team since their performance in the 2007 edition of the tournament.

Bangladesh opened their 2019 campaign with a 21-run victory over South Africa, on the back of a strong batting performance, as they racked up 330/6 after being asked to bat first. Shakib spoke of how expectations have changed, from just being happy when the team competed well, as they did in 2007, when they beat India and South Africa, to now being looked at as serious contenders.

"It’s been 12 years, so our cricket has come a long way forward," Shakib said. "At that time, if we play well, that was good enough for the crowd and for us. But now, they are not satisfied with defeat to any other team. 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."

Bangladesh have consistently improved in multi-nation tournaments over the last decade. In 2015, they made their first-ever World Cup quarter-final, and shortly before this tournament, they beat Ireland and West Indies in a tri-nation series to record 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 were upto the challenge. The boys were confident, but at the same time, they were relaxed. They knew we have the skill to beat big teams."

 Shakib, who is the top-ranked player in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI All-rounder Rankings, excelled on all fronts on Sunday, scoring 75 before dismissing the well-set Aiden Markram for 45 during the chase. In the process, he also became the fastest cricketer to complete the double of 250 wickets and 5000 runs. Moreover, his 142-run stand for the third wicket with Mushfiqur Rahim, which set them up for a big total, was a Bangladesh record for any wicket at the World Cup.

Video cwc19 02 Jun 19
CWC19: SA v BAN - Shakib's smooth 75 puts Bangladesh in charge

"Me and Mushfiqur always had very good partnerships," Shakib said. "Even in Tests, we have the highest partnership record for Bangladesh. It’s been a very good partnership during these last 10-12 years, because we’ve been playing (together) since under-15. We know each other very well, know each other’s game very well. We can complement each other, and that was the key thing."

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