Cumilla Warriors' win against Sylhet Thunder in their 10th match of the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) T20 2019-20 ensured that they still had a chance of qualifying for the playoffs. Weirdly enough, Cumilla face Khulna Tigers, who sit just above them in the points table, in both of their remaining games.
Cumilla skipper Dawid Malan has also felt the same as he said in the post-match press conference that the schedule was weird to play against the same team in two consecutive matches but he added that it also made the tournament exciting.
"The schedule is weird that we had to play against the same team two games in a row and then you play the next team it's strange, it happens a lot. But then if you look at the way it's worked out, now that we are playing the same team twice and we have to beat them to get through, it suddenly makes the tournament really exciting. I think it does not help if you are not playing well as a team, so if you lose against that team in the first game and there's no confidence in you for the next day or the day after you play, so it becomes quite tough. Maybe it would be worth playing against each team once and go on with that in the future if the schedule allows that," the English batsman said.
Questioned if he was confident of beating Khulna in their last two matches, Malan said that they would like to win them and hoped that Khulna would lose the other match. He said, "We would like to win them. I don't think we are confident before we play them. I think we take a lot out of the way we played the last three games. They have been three really tight games. So I think we have done fantastically well to win those. I think they (Khulna) have three games left. So we need them to lose the game that we are not playing against them and then lose against us as well. That's the only thing I can hope for but you never wish bad for anyone. But it's nice to be at this stage of the tournament where you're pushing for a playoff spot. That's what you want as a team whether you make it or not it's a different story but you want to be in a position where you are pushing to get those playoff spots."
Malan also talked about the match, where he was adjudged man of the match for his knock of 58 runs. Malan said that the wicket was tough and it was the credit of the bowlers to restrict Sylhet to a small total.
"The bowlers definitely (were more important). The way our bowlers bowled today in that wicket was fantastic. We struggled with the ball in this tournament in the first six overs and the last four or five overs. The boys were very understanding of what they wanted, to restrict them to 140 was fantastic. Was probably a 150-160 wicket, so to restrict them to 140 was very good," the Cumilla skipper said.
He also heaved out praise for his teammate Soumya Sarkar, who scored a brilliant unbeaten 53 off 30 deliveries to take Cumilla to victory. Malan said that it was a tough wicket to bat on and playing such an innings showed that Soumya had improved a lot.
"He did fantastically well. To me, he was the man of the match. The way he played today, he was the only one with a strike rate of 120-130+. He came out in a really tough time when we were in big trouble, our scoring rate was four per over, he came in and played a very mature innings. So I think that is a very good learning curve for him. Especially because he is batting out of position. He batted at no.5 today where he usually bats at the top three or four in his career. So the way he came out and played today, if I was a guy watching from the outside, from a coaching point of view, I think he has improved so much and he is learning the game and his thinking about the game is brilliant," the 32-year old said.
Sabbir Rahman, one of Cumilla's stalwarts, has found it tough this time around to get into his groove and saw himself dropped from the side against Sylhet. Questioned about Sabbir being dropped, Malan replied that Sabbir was a quality player and sometimes it is tough to score runs.
"I was just speaking to the coach and Minhazul Abedin the selector, in the morning, they felt he was not playing well enough. So they made the decision to leave him out. You know it takes a lot to leave out such a good player like Sabbir. I have played with and against him in this tournament, so I think he is one of the best players in Bangladesh on his day. So, it would be nice if somehow we can get him back into the team and play," Malan added.
Malan further added, "These tournaments either go your way or it doesn't, it's really tough. We as overseas come here and we play four games and get dropped for three games and then play two or three games, so we are used to it. But for local players, it is going to be really tough because he is such a good player. Hopefully, he becomes a better player from it and he can learn from his mistakes. Not that he played badly, he just struggled to get his score going. Which happens, you know, last year this time I could not score a run. It's just the way cricket works."
Malan has been brilliant in this edition of BPL as he has scored 435 runs so far at an average of 62 and now sits on top of the run-scoring charts. Asked about how to play well in such tough tracks, Malan said that this type of wickets allows the batsmen to settle in. He said, "I think to some extent the way this wicket is playing, allows you to take a bit of time because you are not chasing 190-200 like you are doing in Chattogram. It allows you to take a little bit of time, the boundaries are always quite small here, so, you feel like even if you are a little behind here, you are two shots away from catching up."
Malan further added, "Because the wicket playing as it is, you are never chasing high scores so you are always two good overs away from being back up to the race and winning the game. So that allows you to play a certain way here. If you are playing at Chattogram, you obviously have to be more aggressive. Earlier in Sylhet, if the wickets are good you have to play really aggressively. So, I think it's a bit more understanding of Bangladeshi wickets and the fact that we restrict the teams to a good score. If we were chasing 160, we could not have played the way we played early on, we had to take more risks and create more opportunities."
Cumilla will play their next game against Khulna Titans at Mirpur on January 8.