The Bangladesh Under-19 team's ace pacer Shoriful Islam bowled with fire and set an assertive tone for the rest of the young Tigers to follow during his side's historic win over India in the final of the ICC U-19 World Cup final. The U-19s are very much like a family and celebrated their feat together. He talked about that joy, his aggression and the rivalry against India during a riveting interview with The Daily Star's Abdullah Al Mehdi over the phone.
The feelings of winning a U-19 World Cup: I can't express in words how I feel. This is not about the U-19 or national team. This is a World Cup and doesn't matter if it's the national or the U-19 team. We learned everything from our elder brothers. We came this far by watching them play aggressively. If we didn't see them, then we wouldn't have been able to attain this success or win the World Cup. The feelings are that of winning a World Cup, be it for the U-19s or the national team.
On their journey through the tournament: We enjoyed it a lot. From the day we left Dhaka for the tournament till today, we have been enjoying ourselves the same way. We came with an objective and when the goal was achieved, the feelings that arose can't be explained in words. We always stayed like a family, even the support staffs… we all did it together. And a team needs this.
On the celebrations: The celebrations have not ended yet (smiles).
About how hard the task appeared to be ahead of the final against India: Actually, we lost two close matches against them in the past. One was the Asia Cup semifinal [in 2018] and the other was a [Asia Cup] final [in 2019]. I can't describe what those defeats felt like. Before taking the field for the final, all I could think about was what they did after winning and how we felt after losing. So, we didn't want things to turn out as they did before. We wanted to do our best and fight with all our strength till the last ball.
On what it was like after the Asia Cup final loss in 2019: Firstly, we felt really bad. We lost at our home to them, in Dhaka, by one run. They celebrated wildly in front of us back then and we couldn't say anything. We were waiting for the day we would meet them in a final again.
On revenge being on his mind and wanting the World Cup for themselves: Yeah (laughs). We got the chance. What I wanted was to give it our all. Then they would know what it is like when someone celebrates in front of you like that after you've lost.
On his raw aggression (staring the batsman down after walking up to them) that set them up in the final: We have seen in cricket that to play aggressive cricket, you have to do that and to make the batsmen angry or to induce something in him so that he wants to take me on and so that a wicket falls. When you start aggressively, the batsmen watching from the outside become very tentative.
On bowling in the death overs and thought on a chance in the national team: Cricket is such a game that if you lose focus for just one over in a 50-over match, you can lose. So, we wanted to keep our focus throughout the 50 overs. These things don't happen in a day and hard work is needed before applying those in matches. My coach [Mahbub Ali] Zaki bhai helped me lot. I'm not saying that I am doing everything well, but getting a few things right. If I can cement these skills before going to the national team, it would be better.
On the next steps and not losing their way after the U-19 level: We don't know anything. We will play where the Bangladesh Cricket Board wants us to. We've seen before that there are a lot of good players in U-19s who fade away later. We will try to work hard and participate in the BCB camps with enthusiasm. Players like [Mehedi Hasan] Miraz bhai have come from the U-19 level. Maybe those who don't work hard do not make it.