Monday, June 17, 2024

USA aiming beyond Bangladesh, targets upsets at T20 WC, says pacer Ali Khan

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Houston (USA): Just before the start of the T20 World Cup, the co-hosts USA have announced themselves on the international stage with a T20I series win against Bangladesh. With a balanced squad, pacer Ali Khan said they are capable of forcing upsets in next month’s T20 pinnacle.

Defending a mediocre 144, Khan played a crucial role in the death overs, claiming wickets of Shakib Al Hasan (30), Rishad Hossain (9) and Tanzim Hasan Sakib (0) to bundle out Bangladesh for 138 in 19.3 overs.

His 3-25 bowling effort in 3.3 overs earned him the Player of the Match title as the USA took a historic 2-0 unassailable lead in the three-match series.

“We (USA) are hungry, and are going to try to eat whoever comes in our way. This is a time where we can make some changes and adjust. Team looks balanced, and all the guys are hungry. I am sure USA will do some upset [in the T20 World Cup],” Khan said after the second T20i win against Bangladesh on Thursday.

The 33-year-old is keen to raise the USA’s status in the international circuit and called recent wins against Bangladesh a reward of ‘talent and skills’ and not a ‘fluke’.

“We need to put USA out there on the world cricket map. Sometimes when you win against a big side, they say oh it is a fluke. But beating them twice, back-to-back, winning the series is not a fluke. We have the talent, skills and the ability if given the opportunities,” Khan said.

Revealing his thought process and planning against Shakib, the pacer said he kept the ball away from the batter which helped him to get the wicket. “The captain (Monank Patel) asked me to stay ready, and I stayed warmed up. I knew I would be coming on to bowl the 18th and 20th over or the 17th and 19th depending on the situation. Right before I came on, we got a breakthrough and that added pressure on Bangladesh. I just backed myself and tried to do what I do best at the death,” Khan said.

“The wicket got slower, and they were expecting me to bowl with pace, and that’s why they threw their bats and helped me to get the inside edge with Shakib. The plan was to make them hit against the wind, which was the off side for Shakib and tried to throw the first ball away from him. He tried to drag it on and helped me get that wicket,” he added.

With the T20 showpiece coming up next month, Khan remains hopeful of carrying their momentum against other full members. “It’s massive. In a series like this, individual performances count as well. As a team, just shows the world what we can do if given the opportunities. If we keep playing at this associate level or lower level, you are just going to stay there. But if you have more opportunities to play against bigger sides, top ten teams, there’s definitely ways of doing an upset. More opportunities against full members will help us showcase our talent,” Khan said.

The third and final T20I between the USA and Bangladesh will be played on Saturday.

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