It has been an incredible year for Litton Das. The Bangladesh batter scored 1921 runs in 42 matches and 50 innings in 2022, becoming the second-highest run-scorer in international cricket after Babar Azam.
While he enjoyed success in the T20 World Cup in Australia, Litton led Bangladesh to a historic ODI series win against India earlier this month. His consistent performances earned him a berth in the Indian Premier League (IPL) as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) roped him in for Rs. 50 lakh.
The Dinajpur-born batter has time and again stamped his class and in a bid to be successful in different conditions, Litton has changed his training regimes and aims to play county cricket as and when time permits.
Currently enjoying his break in Thailand, Litton spoke to Sportstar on Friday morning on all things cricket…
Q How has 2022 been for you?
I am grateful for this season. God has given me the opportunity to play like this and I am happy that I could play to my strength and deliver. I will try my best to keep the momentum going in the next season as well.
Q What were the targets you set yourself?
I did not have any targets of breaking into top 10 or top 20, but the aim was to maintain a good average across all three formats and play to my strengths. In Test cricket, I have never really thought about strike rate, but in T20Is, the intention was to better the strike rate and play good innings.
Q Your innings against India in the T20 World Cup was rated highly. When you look back, how would you rate that innings given the fact that it was a challenge to tackle conditions and face a star-studded Indian bowling line-up?
When you play a good innings against a top team, it automatically boosts your confidence. The T20 World Cup in Australia was a challenge for me because I did not live up to the expectations in the previous edition in the UAE. So, the focus was to improve my strike rate and I felt that if we have to win games against big teams, then playing attacking cricket is the key. Someone had to step up and play that role and I took the onus and delivered against India. But I would have been happier if I could have kept it going against all other teams as well.
Q Bangladesh lost the plot after your run out. It must have been a terrible feeling to see the side lose the game despite such an innings…
In that situation, I thought that if I could hang in there for another few overs, then we could have changed the scenario of the game. But even after the rain break, we had our chances and after I got out, in the dressing room, we were discussing that the other batters needed to go out there and win the game for us. But it did not go our way. Such things happen in cricket where you go on to lose matches from a comfortable position.
Q After the T20 World Cup, Bangladesh defeated India in the ODI series, under your captaincy. Would you call it the biggest achievement of the year?
Not really. Since I am not a regular captain, it was a satisfying feeling to have guided the team to a series win against India. Every captain wants his team to win, so for that, I am glad that we could beat India and all the members of my team backed me. But this year, we have played some really good cricket as a unit. In terms of achievement, beating India is big, but I would keep our Test win against New Zealand as the biggest achievement of the year.
Q Recently, Ravichandran Ashwin recalled a conversation with you and stated that when he saw you for the first time in 2015, he thought you could reach the levels of Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Joe Root and Steve Smith. If you could share with us a bit of the conversation?
I had a conversation with Ash bhai in the swimming pool during the second Test in Mirpur. He told me that when he saw me for the first time in 2015, he thought that I could reach the levels of all those players you mentioned. But I told him that things were different back then. I was young and the more you play cricket at the highest level, the more you grow.
Secondly, we don’t play away series too often. Though we have played against New Zealand, we have not played a bilateral series in Australia, we don’t play too often in South Africa or in India or Pakistan. So, if you don’t play against top four-five teams on a regular basis, you won’t be able to grow as a cricketer. If I look at my career, over the last six-seven years, I have played just two games against Australia. So, over a period of seven years, if a player gets to play just two games against Australia in Australia or just plays one game against England, then it gets difficult to judge a cricketer. That’s what I told Ash bhai. The Indian team plays regular cricket against Australia, England, New Zealand, so the players benefit. Even during the IPL, the Indian players get an opportunity to play with these cricketers and when you play with top-level cricketers regularly, then you get to learn a lot. You get to understand their strengths, weaknesses. So, if you have not played in Australia regularly, it is extremely challenging to get success in Australian conditions straightaway and that too, in a big-ticket tournament like the T20 World Cup. These are the factors that bother us in terms of improvement.
Q Ashwin also said that you told him that you have ‘almost cracked how to become the path-breaker’ and have found the formula for success. If you could tell us what it is?
If you have to enjoy success in Australia, South Africa, England, you have to train differently. The bounce that you get on the surfaces in Bangladesh is different from those countries, so I am trying to change the style of training. I thought that if I continue with the regular training regime then I will perhaps end up becoming a very good player in Bangladesh, but that won’t help me in achieving success across the globe. That’s why I have changed my training style a bit. I have to change quite a few things. When Babar Azam and Faf du Plessis came to Bangladesh, I had conversations with them about how to approach in different conditions. When you interact with top players, you get to learn a lot in terms of training regimes and how to achieve success in overseas conditions.
Q Since you are stressing on achieving success in overseas conditions, do you plan on playing county cricket anytime soon?
I am definitely thinking about it. But the problem is that we have a packed international schedule and it is difficult to squeeze out some time for county cricket. We play throughout the year, so if there’s a window, I will try to play in county cricket because I can play there for a couple of seasons, it will help me improve my game.
Q In the second Test against India, India was reeling at 74 for seven in the 145-run chase when Ashwin joined hands with Shreyas Iyer. Many believed that the dropped catch by Mominul Haque not only allowed Ashwin to settle in, but also paved the way for India’s win. Your thoughts on how things panned out on the final day.
We definitely played well throughout, but yes, if we could have made the most of the dropped chances, things could have been different. I also believe that had we batted a bit better in the first innings, it would have been good. But in that situation, when India was at 74 for seven, it was difficult for them to win the game, but we could not finish as India pulled off a miracle of sorts. But like I said, such things happen in cricket. You need to take things in your stride and move on and ensure that you don’t make those silly mistakes again.
Q Kolkata Knight Riders bought you at your base price of Rs. 50 lakh after initially going unsold in the IPL auction last week. How excited are you about featuring in the IPL?
IPL is a huge platform and you get to play in high-intensity games. Sharing the dressing room with some of the big names in world cricket will help me immensely because the more you get to know them, the better it is for you to pick their brains and learn a thing or two. Once you interact with them, it will help me better my game and boost my mental strength.
Q Bangladesh started quite impressively with a Test win against New Zealand in January, but many felt that the team failed to build the momentum in the later part of the year…
We enjoyed quite a bit of success in 2022. We won a Test in New Zealand, then we won against South Africa, so those are positives. Even in the T20 World Cup, we came close to reaching the semifinals, and even at home, we have been quite consistent. Our dream is to grow as a team and fix the weak links, but I think that 2022 hasn’t been bad for us. We plan to start 2023 on a good note as it’s another action-packed year and I would not want to think too much about planning as it varies from series to series. We start the year with the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), then we have series against England and Ireland, so there’s a lot to play for and we hope to play to our strengths.