Liton Das said that getting a break from T20s after the World Cup was a blessing in disguise after scoring by his maiden Test century against Pakistan in Chattogram. Liton was one of several high-profile players to be dropped from the Bangladesh squad for the three T20Is against Pakistan last week.
Bangladesh lost 3-0 but many believed that the team management sent a stern message to Liton, Mushfiqur Rahim and Soumya Sarkar for their below par performance in the UAE. Liton (114) and Mushfiqur (91) have already bounced back in the first innings of the Chattogram Test.
Liton used his time away from the team to get his mind ready for long-form cricket. He went to play a first-class match at BKSP, his alma mater, and sought the advice of his mentors from childhood, Nazmul Abedeen Fahim and Montu Dutta. He has also been tweaking his batting stance with Bangladesh batting coach Ashwell Prince.
"Maybe they gave me a break to do well in Tests," Liton said. "I think we got the main result from the break after the World Cup. As far as mental preparations are concerned, I played a first-class match after coming back from the World Cup. I had this Test series in mind. I didn't expect too much from myself but I prepared adequately.
"Both (psychological and technical) aspects are important. The technical aspects are crucial. Even the smallest change in something like your stance can make a huge difference. It could change the style of play. It is nothing new. When I was in BKSP playing the NCL match, I spoke to Fahim sir and Montu sir about this particular problem. I worked with him (Prince) in Chittagong, when he felt I needed a small change. I won't say that I did well because I changed my stance. I worked hard to come to this stage.
Liton said that Mushfiqur motivated him constantly during their partnership, especially when he was cramping all over his body late on the first day.
"I had plenty of small partnerships with (Mushfiqur) bhaiya. This one was a big partnership. It feels great when your partner helps you, motivates you. Together we overcame a tough situation.
"(Mushfiqur) bhaiya kept telling me to stick around, especially when I was cramping towards the end of the day. He said it would be tough for a new batter. I just wanted to survive till the end of the day," he said.
About the state of play - Pakistan are 145 for 0 in response to Bangladesh's 330 all out - Liton is hopeful that a new day brings better luck. After all, all 10 wickets in this match have fallen in the first session of play.
"We are not thinking about the result yet. When we lost four wickets before lunch, everyone thought we would be bowled out early. Mushfiq bhai and I put together a good partnership. By the end of the day, we were thinking about a big total.
"But cricket is unpredictable. Pakistan are in a good position now. If we can take two or three wickets tomorrow morning, we will be back on par. The run-rate isn't too high. It is difficult to score quickly on this pitch. A lot depends on the third day," he said.
Bangladesh's bowling has been a bit insipid so far, but they can take inspiration from the Liton-Mushfiqur partnership. It turned around the batting innings for them, particularly Liton who continued his good year in Tests with the century.
"It is always a difficult question about consistency. Everyone tries to be consistent. I will continue the process of my last six or seven Tests. I can't expect to score a hundred in my next innings. I have to start from zero next time. It is always a challenge, but I will try to stick to my process," he said.