Al Amin's chance to prove
Despite being the third highest wicket-taker last year, Al-Amin Hossain's place in the World Cup squad wasn't assured. With 17 wickets in 11 matches last year, only Shakib Al Hasan and Mashrafe Bin Mortaza had scalped more wickets. In fact, until the Zimbabwe series Al-Amin was the highest wicket-taker for the Tigers.
Doubts regarding his place in the side stemmed from the ICC's decision to question Al-Amin's bowling action. Although he cleared the test, selectors felt that the decision had a negative effect on the bowler's confidence. Al-Amin barely seemed like the bowler that he had been during the first phase of the year after the episode.
He was just given eight overs in the first Test against Zimbabwe and was dropped for the second.
The ODI series wasn't much better as he was given 10 overs in two ODIs. The first ODI saw him give away 21 runs in two overs. while in the second he finished with figures of 1 for 44 in eight.
A contrasting performance considering the fact that Al-Amin, in the initial days of the year, was the captain's go-to bowler.
His death-bowling in the Asia cup earned him heaps of praise. In the match against Pakistan, he kept an in-form Shahid Afridi relatively quiet with his yorkers in the death overs, after the latter had smacked Shakib for three consecutive sixes. It was an aspect that eventually built pressure and led to Afridi's run-out and brought the hosts back into the game for a brief period.
His greatest achievement of the year though, came in the West Indies. He took 10 wickets in three matches, which included two four-wicket hauls, as he became the top wicket-taker of the tournament. Prior to the series many expected the likes of Dwayne Bravo or Sunil Narine to dominate the bowling, but it was Al-Amin's burst that ended up surprising the hosts.
It's an aspect that the Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and co will hope that the bowler can replicate in Australia and New Zealand. Right before the announcement of the World Cup squad, the BCB president conferred with Mashrafe and asked him if there was any particular player that he really wanted in the team; Mashrafe identified Al-Amin's importance, who was already in the main 15.
The captain emphasised the pacer's bowling in the death overs which, according to him, adds a different dimension. Spinners aren't likely to be used towards the end in Australia and New Zealand and Mashrafe's record in the death overs isn't that great; and that will leave Al-Amin with a lot on his plate.
While chief selector Faruque Ahmed opined that the questioning of the bowler's action pulled the bowler down, Al-Amin thought otherwise. “It was because of my university exams. It was difficult to keep both aspects in check. The Zimbabwe series unfortunately went a little badly but I performed consistently last year,” said Al-Amin.
If that is indeed the case then there's no better opportunity than the World Cup for the bowler to prove his point.