Mystery spinner Aliss could be Bangladesh’s asset: Salahuddin
In 2019, an unknown entity of Bangladesh cricket -- Aliss Al Islam -- made his mark with a hattrick in his debut Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) game for Dhaka Dynamites under Shakib Al Hasan's captaincy.
He dropped a few catches in that game and when it seemed likely that his debut would be a disappointing one, Aliss removed Rangpur Riders' Rilee Rossouw before he got a hattrick in the 18th over. He would go on to defend 14 runs in the last over to win the game for his side. However, the game was not exactly an 'Aliss in Wonderland story' as his bowling action was reported by Rangpur.
He went under the radar after being called for his action and would return in BPL 2020 to play just one game. His participation in domestic leagues was sporadic due to a knee injury till he featured in this year's BPL. He did not pick any wickets against Fortune Barishal, but given the chance against Sylhet Sixers yesterday, Comilla Victorians' Aliss once again notched a match-winning performance with a four for 17 in his side's 52-run win.
He used the seam to good effect, almost like a medium pacer. His release too had changed since that euphoric hattrick in 2019. More importantly, he is filling the vacancy of a mystery spinner in the Comilla side, a one-off in Bangladesh.
Comilla coach Mohammed Salahuddin praised Aliss' variations which changed the game after his side Comilla could only muster 130 for eight.
"Actually, there are very few mystery bowlers in our country. The boy started quite some time back and then due to chucking, he had to stay out of cricket for a long time. It was really difficult for him to come back and we believed in him," Salahuddin said about Aliss at the press conference yesterday.
Salahuddin also mentioned how Aliss could go on to be an asset for the country.
"I had the advantage that since he practiced with me, I had the opportunity to watch him closely. He has a lot of variations and we have been looking for these kinds of bowlers for a while in this country. Especially for doing well in T20s, we need mystery bowlers since we are not getting good wrist spinners. It will benefit the country to have these kinds of bowlers. If he can hold on to his nerves then he can be an asset to this country," he added.
Aliss had been working with Salahuddin for a while now. Even at the Masco Shakib Cricket Academy, the two could be seen working on getting things right. It was with the new ball that Aliss had caused so much trouble last night. Salahuddin recognised the specific nature of Aliss's quality to be well-suited to T20s.
"Last year, he played the Premier League [Dhaka Premier League] and did well with me in Prime Bank even though he played just two matches. He suffered from injury, a problematic knee and before that he had a problem with chucking. I support these kinds of guys because they never give up on the game. If someone is trying, no matter how big [in stature] I am as a coach, it's my responsibility to help him. He has been training the whole year and I noticed his improvement as it was my responsibility.
"Rather than me, it's the boy who had to have the courage [to return to playing]. Maybe he was nervous in the first match since he was playing after a long time, after four years. To correct his action and return is difficult and it was difficult to support him too. Since he came to me, I showed some guts and maybe I felt he would do well in T20s. I feel that especially in T20s, he's dangerous with the new ball because of his variations which can't always be noticed. There are three-four variations that can cause difficulty to any batter," he added.
Salahuddin quipped that he is a bit of a specialist in chucking, having worked with now-national selector Abdur Razzak previously.
"I feel like I am a chucking specialist," Salahuddin jokingly said.
"Since Razzak was called for chucking twice, I corrected it. I think I am a specialist and those who chuck come to me. I notice them carefully since when someone returns from chucking, they don't bowl as well as they used to. In my experience when Razzak got back he was bowling better than he used to. It's a long process, not something achieved in days. He[Aliss] had a difficult action and to change that I had to work for a long period of time. But it was his wish and that's why he was able to do it," the veteran Comilla coach said.
Aliss can certainly hope that after another starring role in a BPL game, this time he will be able to stick around.