Rubel back in his element
Rubel Hossain is not the most economical bowler in the Bangladesh ranks -- he is at times a bit expensive. But the right-arm pacer with a slinging action is the fastest among the lot and perhaps tailor-made for big occasions. His devastating exploits against England in the 2015 World Cup is something many will remember for a long long time. But he had gone through torrid times after the World Cup on and off the field and was dropped after a successful home season that saw Bangladesh win ODI series against Pakistan, India and South Africa.
Rubel went for a rehab after picking up a knee injury but his reluctance to follow strict regimentation and his mooted desire not to play the demanding Test matches eventually cost him his rightful place in the team. It actually took him a lot of hard work to win back the heart of the team management. He travelled with the team to New Zealand but did not play a single ODI, went to Sri Lanka only to warm the reserve bench.
In the Ireland tri-series he made his return to the team as a third seamer and at the expense of an equally impressive Taskin Ahmed. There is a strong argument that both Taskin and Rubel are supposed to form the best pace trio with Mustafizur Rahman had the inspirational captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza not been around.
But that debate apart Rubel, the only Bangladesh bowler with the ability to reverse-swing the ball, is by far the best first-change pace bowler in Bangladesh. He bowled 10 overs in the first game against New Zealand during the Ireland tri-series and took two wickets. He was impressive with his pace and was very effective with the old ball.
Mustafizur may be the man any captain would depend on when the team is in crisis, but the captain can have faith on Rubel when it comes to bowling in the death overs. Yesterday, in what was a re-match against the Black Caps, Rubel hurled 12 searing yorkers in his last two overs. And apart from the one, which turned into a full toss, rests were almost perfect. He conceded a four but that was a frustrating boundary off an inside edge, finishing his spell with figures of 10-0-56-1. But it could have been a second wicket and the most satisfying one for him had Mahmudullah not dropped Ross Taylor at mid-on.
Rubel's three good outings ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy is certainly a positive that Bangladesh can take before heading for England to play the hosts in the opening game on June 1. And Rubel will certainly relish that prospect after his famous exploits down under.