‘As a professional, I need to adapt to any condition’
Bangladesh national team cricketers were granted a three-week leave at the conclusion of a five-match T20I series against New Zealand earlier this month. But despite the lack of scheduled practice sessions ahead of the Tigers' departure to Oman next month for the T20 World Cup, left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed had already started work on his bowling.
"I do not take much time off. I took three or four days off and started working on my bowling," Nasum said when contacted over the phone.
Usually an innocent fellow, Nasum's dedicated work ethic can be considered his biggest asset.
He scalped a total of nine wickets in the five T20Is against Australia last month. In fact, it was Nasum's heroic figures of four for 19 from four overs that dismantled the visitors' and helped Bangladesh register a maiden T20I win against Australia.
He was sharp against the Kiwis too and his eight wickets in five matches saw him adjudged the joint-player-of-the-series alongside New Zealand's stand-in skipper Tom Latham.
These last two series gave him the platform to ensure a place in the T20 World Cup squad and Nasum did not hesitate to grab the spotlight. In taking those 16 wickets across 10 games, Nasum gave away just 4.96 runs per over -- an enviable feat in T20 cricket.
"The last two series went very well for me. I enjoyed it a lot. My satisfaction is that I got 16 wickets because you do not get wickets easily in T20Is. Apart from that, I conceded very few runs," Nasum said, cognizant of how important the last few outings had been.
The surfaces at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, where the Tigers' last 10 T20Is were played, have come under heavy criticism for their slow, low and turning nature. The wickets in Mirpur were undoubtedly paradise for spinners and so, questions were raised about whether the assistance those offered led to spinners getting those wickets.
Nasum seemed keen to straighten the record when that context was presented.
"We actually had to win by playing well. Even though the wicket was tough to bat on, we (bowlers) had to do our job. We just bowled and got wickets -- it was nothing like that! We had to work hard for our successes," Nasum added.
Even Nasum could concede that bowling skills would truly be tested at the T20 World Cup in UAE and Oman, where wickets will not be as favorable to spinners as they were in Mirpur, but he said he was ready to adapt to any condition.
"I need to bowl according to the situation. Whatever conditions we might face, I need to adjust to them. That's what you need to do as a professional cricketer. I will also adapt to those wickets," a confident Nasum reiterated.
In an attempt to acclimatise himself with the varied conditions overseas, Nasum is working with the legendary Rangana Herath, the former Sri Lankan left-arm spinner who is currently serving as Bangladesh's spin-bowling consultant.
"I enjoy working with Herath. Whenever I reach out to him with a problem, he helps me find solutions. I am trying to sharpen myself further with his help."
The place for a second left-arm spinner after Shakib Al Hasan in the Tigers' limited-overs squad has still not been steadily filled by anyone. Nasum, who appears on his way to staking that claim, is aware of the challenges he may face along the way.
"I will lose my place if I cannot perform, that's the reality. And I am playing with that in mind."
Nasum's biggest source of inspiration ahead of the T20 World Cup has been his family.
"My mother died in June 2020. Had she been here, she would have been really happy for me. My father doesn't understand cricket well. He just gets worried whenever I fall or sustain injuries."
When asked about his aims at the World Cup, Nasum expectedly put the collective ahead of personal glory.
"The team's success comes to mind more than any personal goal. I will consider myself successful if I can contribute to the team's victory even if I do not get any wickets."