Shafiul gives a ray of hope

February 27, 2011

Paceman Shafiul Islam buried the nightmare he had against India in the opening match with a match-winning performance in Friday’s cracking game against Ireland.
Shafiul was humiliated by Indian opener Virender Sehwag on his way to one-day career best 175 runs last Saturday in manner which could have shattered the confidence of any bowler.
But the wily paceman from the northern district town of Bogra, who was hardly known even at home a year ago, showed his character in the very next opportunity and stole the limelight in a match otherwise dominated by the spinners and slow bowlers.
His four-wicket burst in the final spell not only helped Bangladesh pull off an unlikely 27-run win, but it also gave them a hope of overcoming a problem they are grappling with for months.
Bangladesh are the only side in this tournament who have only three specialised seamers in their 15-man squad and in the absence of injured Mashrafee bin  Murtaza they had pinned their  hopes on Shafiul.
He was so crucial to their game plan that despite his erratic performance in the India game and a fitness concern, Bangladesh waited on him until the matchday morning.
Shafiul conceded 69 runs in his seven overs against India and then went on to injure his shoulder while attempting to take a catch in Wednesday’s practice session, which made him doubtful for the Ireland game.
‘Even yesterday (Thursday) I was not sure if I will be able to play as I sustained an injury,’ Shafiul told reporters after the game.
‘I took some ice in the night and I felt good in the morning and reported it to my captain. Afterwards the management decided to give me another shot.’
In their defence of a very small total, Sakib did not dare to give Shafiul more than one over in his first two spells when he went for six and five runs respectively.
But Sakib knew Shafiul would be his trump card and he recalled the bowler in the 36th over when the second ball was due.
And this time Shafiul did not let his captain down mixing his deliveries with reverse swing, his trademark slower and out-swing bowling and it brought rich dividend for his side.
In the extra-ordinary spell of six overs Shafiul gave away only 11 runs, which made his figures 4-21, the best by a Bangladeshi bowler in a World Cup match, surpassing Abdur Razzak’s 3-25 against South Africa in 2007.
‘I was told by the captain to keep faith in myself and bowl in the right areas. He was sure Ireland will give away their wickets if I can do this and that’s what happened,’ said Shafiul.
‘I wanted to concentrate on my line and length more than anything else.
‘And in the final spell the shape of the ball was good that gave me confidence to try the reverse-swing and it paid off.’
Many had expected Shafiul to become man of the match, an award finally went to Tamim Iqbal, which even left the batsman surprised.
At the post-match press conference Tamim admitted he expected Shafiul to win the award as he deserved it more than anyone else. And there was hardly anyone to disagree with him.
‘I thought I would be the man of the match but more than that I am happy because we finished the game on a winning note,’ said Shafiul.
Man of the match or not, it also helped him make the Indian nightmare a thing of past.
‘In cricket some days can be bad days for anyone and I thought that it was just not my day against the Indians,’ he said.
‘I always believed that I will be able to make a comeback and I am happy that I did.’

Courtesy of New Age

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