Nasir's happy homecoming
As soon as Nasir Hossain bowled the last ball of his 10th over, his teammates from all over the field came to congratulate him. Shakib Al Hasan was the first one. He came in, hugged him from behind, Soumya Sarkar ran in all the way from the deep and patted his head, while Mosaddek Hossain, the junior-most player of the team gave him a slight pat on the back.
One could say that Nasir's teammates were congratulating him for his brilliant bowling figures: 1 for 29. After all, there were 33 dot balls and a wicket in those 10 overs. He had just conceded the one boundary.
"With regards to bowling he was outstanding -- 10 overs for 29, it's difficult to want anything more than this from a player," skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza said of the comeback man.
However, when you analyse Nasir's career and his performance in the last two years, you will get the feeling that those pats and hugs were not meant just for Nasir's performance in yesterday's game, it meant a lot more. It was more of a 'welcome back to the hood' kind of a celebration, for Nasir has not been the team management's first choice in the ODIs this year.
He has not been in the starting 11 despite having posted the best economy figures and the best bowling average among Bangladesh's spinners last year. He fared well with the bat as well, having recorded an average above 70 in the recently concluded Dhaka Premier League, the country's premier 50-over competition.
After Mosharraf Hossain's disappointing performance, he was given another opportunity and he excelled both with the bat and the ball.
When Nasir arrived at the crease yesterday, Bangladesh were struggling at 165 for six and there were just 10 more overs to go. An over later, Mosaddek Hossain departed and the hosts further plunged to 170 for seven by the 42nd over.
If Nasir was sweating a bit, he could not be blamed; he has gone through a lot in the last year, which saw him suddenly fall from being one of the favourites in the side to becoming a benchwarmer.
Luckily for him, captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza at the other end was on a different level altogether. He was hammering his way through the English attack.
Inspired by his captain, Nasir himself joined the action and scored a useful 27 off 27. That may not have been the highlight in the face of Mashrafe's knock, but it was his stability that helped Bangladesh post their highest score in the last 10 overs this year: 75. Initially, he was content to take the singles and give Mashrafe the strike and then towards the end he started chopping and cutting the ball, something that he loves to do, with ease.
"He has done well; at that time he batted till the end. That is something we always want and he has done that," Mashrafe said of his batting.
When you have an all-rounder of Nasir's calibre, it is difficult to understand why the management would exclude him. To use the skipper's own words, 'it is difficult to want anything more from a player'.