Shanto and Young: Two rising stars add solidity at the top of their sides

Will Young made 58 off 91 balls AFP/Getty Images

You are likely to hear a lot more about Najmul Hossain Shanto and Will Young during the World Cup. They head into the tournament among their respective team's top scorers this year, having also top-scored in the Bangladesh-New Zealand third ODI in Dhaka on Monday, their last game before the World Cup. But they have reached this stage through different routes in the last couple of years.

Young is New Zealand's fourth-highest run-getter in ODIs since his debut in 2021. He has opened in half of those matches, and has now nailed that position even as Kane Williamson returns for the World Cup. His 70 off 80 in the third game while chasing 172 against Bangladesh ensured New Zealand didn't stumble despite losing two early wickets.

Young said that although Bangladeshi conditions aren't exactly like India's, they helped New Zealand know their balance ahead of the World Cup.

"The boys were saying in the change room that we haven't won a one-day series here since 2008," Young said. "Just the extra fuel for the fire to come here. Heading into this game with a 1-0 lead, get[ting] the job done. Winning a series for the first time in 15 years is pretty special. Playing three games in Bangladesh before a World Cup in India is pretty good preparation. It is not the same conditions but they might be similar, especially with the balance of sides.

"Potentially, three seamers and couple of spinners. It was a good hit out. Five of us are heading to India for the World Cup. For those guys it was especially good. For the rest of the team, it is good to get the experience here as they [conditions] are very different to what they are like back home."

Young said that he was looking forward to linking up with the rest of the New Zealand squad so that they know more about Indian conditions. "We have a lot of experience in our batting in the World Cup squad," Young said. "Rachin [Ravindra] and I are younger in our international careers. It is nice to have a bank of experience of playing in these conditions. We will take it to the World Cup.

"For the rest of the squad, batters in particular, they have played in the IPL and bilateral series against India for years. We will hear what they have got to say, soak it all up. So, when we play the first game against England in Ahmedabad, we can hit the ground running."

Shanto has turned his career around in the last 12 months, from being a benched T20 batter to being the Bangladesh vice-captain in the World Cup. He returned to lead Bangladesh in the third game after missing a few matches in the Asia Cup with a hamstring injury and led from the front with his 76 off 84 balls.

"It was disappointing to get out like that. If I hung around till the end, we could have made 200-220 runs, "Shanto said. "I should have batted with the tail. I couldn't do it, so it was disappointing.

"It is a matter of pride. My family is very happy. I will enjoy these moments. It wasn't a happy occasion result-wise. I was excited since I was declared captain. When I was batting or when the bowlers were starting well, I was enjoying it."

Shanto's innings stood out but the rest of the batting order crumbled around him. While the hosts maintained a good run rate, they couldn't get partnerships going at any stage.

"I think it was a good wicket for batting. We continued on a good run rate of around 5.5 to 5.7 even when we were losing wickets. We had a few batters getting out after being settled in the wicket. We needed a couple of big partnerships. I think we have to look inwards [to figure out] why it is not happening. It is up to the individual," he said.

Shanto's turnaround in form started with the T20 World Cup last year where he was the team's highest run-scorer. He expressed his desire to get better individually and collectively. "As a batter, it is my duty to score runs in every game. It shouldn't be a dream. It is what I am supposed to do. I should do better. I am trying to improve myself.

"It doesn't matter if I am the highest run-getter if the team doesn't do well. We didn't make it to the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup last year so individual performance doesn't count much for us. Important thing is, we need to win matches. I will try to convert those fifties into hundreds. I want to bat with the same intent and plan whenever there's an opportunity," he said.