Bangladesh opener Liton Kumar Das said that his senior partner Tamim Iqbal egged him on to come up with a special knock during their record 292-run partnership against Zimbabwe in the third ODI. Liton revealed that Tamim at one point reminded him that there is an opportunity for the right-hander to break his record for the highest individual score by a Bangladesh batsman in the ODI format.
Tamim previously held the record when he made 158 in the second ODI in the same series but Liton went on to broke it on Friday (March 6) with some belligerent hitting that saw him fetch 176 runs off just 143 deliveries. Tamim at the other end remained unbeaten on 128 off 109 balls. As a result, Bangladesh defeated Zimbabwe by 123 runs in the rain-hit third ODI and clinched the series 3-0 at the Sylhet International Stadium.
“When I was batting on 80, the Zimbabweans were bowling well at that phase and during that point Tamim bhai told me not to lose my head as this will pass away,” Liton told reporters after his magnificent knock. “After I crossed 120 he told me that there is a chance to overtake his score and Tamim bhai told me do something that will remain [in the record books] for long in Bangladesh.”
Liton, who also hit a hundred in the opening game of the series after a gap of 17 months, insisted that he planned on batting 30 overs in the game and never entertained hopes of a double century. “I started from zero. The target was to bat at least 30 overs. And I was batting with planning. But after 100, the momentum changed, position changed. I played fast, so there was a chance [of double hundred] but I never thought of scoring 200 runs,” he said.
”I targeted to bat as many overs as possible and after the rain break I have to play more shots because of the curtailed overs,” he pointed out. “After scoring two centuries I can hope that if I play 30 overs I can score big score against any opponent. Today I played the best innings of my life till date. I changed my batting style after the domestic season if I progress like this I can make good scores in the future.”
Liton added that Bangladesh wanted to give their skipper Mashrafe Mortaza a fitting farewell in his last game in charge. “We wanted to give our captain a big send-off in his last match as captain,” he said.
Mortaza, who backed Liton throughout his career, seemed to be happy that Liton is finally on his way to establish himself at the international circuit. “I always like watching two batsmen, one is Virat Kohli and other one is Liton,” he said. “Many batsmen score runs, but as long as they are on the wicket, it looks nice to watch them bat. I have seen saying it. Liton can change the momentum, hold on to his wicket, play a big innings.
“I think now he has been able to pick it. Now he understands the game well. I think now he has that experience after playing four to five years. And as I said, it is the peak time for him to score runs. The 121 he scored against India, it was his natural game. I have always told him that,” Mortaza further added..
While hailing Liton as ‘one of the best in the country’, the veteran also recalled an incident in the West Indies in 2018 where the batsman was seemingly upset when he wasn’t given opportunities at the top of the order – his favoured position. Mortaza had then promised Liton that he will return to his desired position the next time he bats for Bangladesh.
“One day Liton was telling me that he wants to bat at the top when we were in West Indies [in 2018] where in three matches he didn’t play and Bijoy(Anamul Haque) opened in all the games,” Mortaza recalled. “After the second ODI when Anamul failed everyone wanted Liton to be in the playing XI as he scored runs in the practice game but we discussed with him and gave Bijoy straight three matches and Liton was upset that time.
“While discussing with him for about half an hour he told me that he wanted to play in his best position and if he failed to perform then he will take full responsibility. And that pretty much gave me confidence that ‘ok fine a young player is taking responsibilities’. So I gave him my word that the next time whenever you play I’ll make sure you are opening.
“I have always wanted him to play and from the very young age I have seen him and I think he is one of the best in the country.”