From a very young age, Nazmul Hossain Shanto was considered a mainstay of Bangladesh's future batting lineup. Shanto's debut in international cricket came out of the blue in 2017, however, his performances for the national side have not been convincing till this year.
His runs against Pakistan and Zimbabwe earlier this year showed promise and at only 21 years of age, Shanto has a lot of time to prove his worth.
The Business Standard (TBS) caught up with Shanto during this lockdown and talked about his sudden Test debut, future plans and if he wanted to lead Bangladesh in the future.\
TBS: BCB has allowed cricketers back in the field. How big of a relief was that?
As a player, we are all happy that we can go to the field after such a long break. This is a very good initiative from the board.
TBS: How tough is it to stay at home without cricket?
Look, I have never stayed at home for such a long time. It is definitely difficult but the situation has forced our hand. We have to accept the reality and there is nothing to be sad about. It is important to stay safe during this crisis period. If I am fit and alive, then I will be able to play again. We should stay positive and rather than panicking, we should follow the rules we need to to stay well. So, if I can ensure all this, Almighty willing, I will be able to play again.
TBS: How have you worked on your fitness in this period?
I have tried to adjust and work on my fitness at home, BCB has given us some fitness programs. It is difficult as a player but I have tried as much I can do at home.
TBS: Do you feel that you were unlucky to be made to play for the national team all of a sudden, in New Zealand, in 2017?
This is something from 3-4 years back. There is no scope of thinking about that now. I think that whatever happened, by God's grace, happened for the best. There is no option of thinking negatively about that and I don't do that. I think after my debut Test I have learnt to understand better where I need to improve or what I need to do to improve in international cricket. I have experienced a lot of things in the last 2-3 years. So, that sudden Test debut helped me. There is no scope of thinking too much about it. I am thinking about where I am now and planning on how much I can improve in the future.
TBS: You went through a bad patch in the national team at the very start and scored runs in recent matches. How tough was it to go through this period?
It was very difficult. Because I performed in the domestic circuit and age levels but my start in the national team was poor. But I don't see it negatively. I took the challenge of doing well in international cricket and it reaped a little reward in my last few matches. So if I get the opportunity in the future, Almighty willing, I will try my best to do well.
TBS: After a long bad patch, you scored two big knocks in the BPL. How well did it feel to finally show your calibre on a big stage?
I felt great as I did not start the BPL very well. But one thing is that I stayed positive from the very start of this BPL, I did not think of anything negative. That is why I think the last couple of matches went very well. And I also got the boost in my confidence that I can score in this format too. Those innings' created the belief in me that I can score runs in such a big stage.
TBS: You hadn't scored in ODIs and then you got a start against Zimbabwe and got out because of a bad decision from the umpire. Did you feel unlucky?
Look, I could do nothing about it. Stuff like this happens in cricket so there is no point of thinking about it. Definitely I felt bad, that I can not deny. But it was pointless to think about it and I did not.
TBS: How has it been working with Neil McKenzie?
He was a great player and is a very good coach. He supports us very well, we work on our skills under him. He is a very helpful person. I have enjoyed working with him the entire time.
TBS: Which format do you want to be a regular at first?
I want to play in all three formats. My favourite format is ODIs. It is wrong to say which format I want to cement my place in first. I will try to perform in whichever format I get the opportunity and if I perform, I will automatically earn my place.
TBS: How was the experience of winning gold in the SA Games as the captain?
Definitely, it was great. We played good cricket in the Emerging Cup too but I believe that you need lady luck on your side to become champions. Luck did not favour us or we did not play well in the final or maybe we had some lackings. But we had played good cricket throughout the tournament. But when we went to play in the SA Games, we were determined to win the gold. Everyone played for the team and helped each other and that is what made it possible. And as a captain, it feels great to think about winning the gold in such a big event.
TBS: Do you see yourself as a future captain?
This is actually something which lies in the future. If the opportunity arrives, I will definitely want to do it. But for now, I am not thinking about it at all. I am more focused on cementing my spot in the team by performing and helping the team win. So, let me do these first and then if I get the opportunity, I will do it. But for now, I am not getting too ahead of myself.
TBS: Which one do you prefer, the first Bangladeshi to score a triple hundred or first Bangladeshi to score 10,000 Test runs?
First Bangladeshi batsman to score ten thousand runs.
TBS: Your idols growing up...
When I started cricket, it was Sachin Tendulkar. Then when I grew up and understood cricket better, from then on to now, my favourite cricketer is Shakib Al Hasan. I try to follow his attitude, his thought process on the field.