In the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup, we take a look back on World Cups past through the eyes of Bangladesh’s former World Cup stars. Syed Rasel, who played in six Tests, 52 ODIs and eight T20Is for Bangladesh, was also a pivotal figure in the Tigers’ line up for the 2007 World Cup. The left-armer, best known for bowling economic spells, shared some of his World Cup memories in an interview with The Daily Star’s Nabid Yeasin.
The Daily Star (TDS): How did it feel to play in the 2007 World Cup?
Syed Rasel (SR): I started playing cricket back in 1998 and I set a goal for myself at that time. I calculated that my age in 2007 would be perfect to feature in a World Cup for Bangladesh and that’s what I targeted -- to play in the 2007 World Cup. I actually cannot express my feelings with words about how it felt to play in a World Cup that I had aimed for years back.
TDS: What is your best World Cup memory?
SR: Actually, every wicket I took was memorable. There were some match winning performances in that World Cup. For instance, in our first game against India, I did not get any wickets but I bowled economically and held back the run-flow from one end. I think in that game, players like Mashrafe [Bin Mortaza] and [Abdur] Razzak, who came into bowl after me were benefitted by my bowling. Another thing is that people still talk about Graeme Smith’s wicket [against South Africa in the second round of the 2007 World Cup] when they meet me. There is however one interesting story about the game we played against West Indies. In that World Cup, every time before starting to bowl, I used to talk to Tamim [Iqbal].He used to guess and tell me the amount of runs I am going to concede and the number of wickets I will take. So in the game against West Indies, I asked Tamim ‘So, Tamim tell me your predictions for today’. And then Tamim said that ‘today you will get one wicket and give 48 runs’. And then I said to him that I think the number of runs is a bit more than I usually concede and it does not go with my character. Then Tamim replied to me that ‘it is what it is, I cannot lessen the numbers’. It was as though I was actually insisting that he lessen the number of runs I would be conceding. Anyways, I was bowling my last over and I had already conceded 42 runs in 9.5 overs. The batsman was Brian Lara and before bowling my last ball to him I looked at Tamim. Tamim was signalling a six with his hand as if he was praying for it to happen and interestingly, I was struck for a six off that ball. This was the one time his prediction matched perfectly and it was a memorable thing in the World Cup.
TDS: You were always known for your economic spells. In the upcoming World Cup in England, how important do you think it will be for the bowlers to bowl economically on true wickets?
SR: Cricket has now become a game of runs. In England, there won’t be any moisture on the pitch like we used to find earlier. But the bowlers might get some swing in the air if there is wind. Other than that, I think it will be a batting track in England and it will be wrong of the bowlers and even the fans to expect some extraordinary bowling in England. So on that type of pitch the bowlers have to be technically sound, otherwise it will be tough for them to survive. The bowlers need to bank on variations like bowling slowers, slower yorkers, block holes, lower full-toss deliveries at times. The faster bowlers can even bowl half-volley deliveries at a good speed as it is hard to hit and might result in only a single most of the time. But the bowlers cannot afford to bowl short and good length balls, especially in the last ten overs as those will be easy pickings. The key there will be to try and contain the batsmen and not to go for wickets, because going for wickets might concede runs.
TDS: What do you think of Bangladesh’s chances in this World Cup and how far will they go?
SR: The way Bangladesh have been playing and especially after seeing them win the tri-series in Ireland, I am now actually dreaming of them winning the World Cup. This is what we want but it will only be possible if our players can play as per their abilities. So I pray that they can carry their form and if they do then I think we can be in the top three.
TDS: Do you have a message for the players ahead of this World Cup?
SR: First of all, good wishes for the whole team. And my message towards them is that, if possible, bring the cup home.