Raja hits T20 ‘line, length and variation’
The ninth edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) may not have the same aura as the top franchise-based T20 leagues around the globe as it does not feature T20 cricket's big names, but that only makes the tournament a great platform for local cricketers to showcase their talent even more than before.
And Sylhet Strikers' Rejaur Rahman Raja certainly came through in that regard as the young pacer set the stage alight with his career-best T20 figures of four for 14 from four overs to propel his side to a thumping eight-wicket victory over Chattogram Challengers in the tournament opener at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Courtesy of Raja's impressive bowling, Sylhet restricted Chattogram to a meagre 89 for nine before cruising to victory with eight wickets and 45 balls to spare.
The right-arm seamer has been on the national team's radar for some time now and proved to be a prolific wicket-taker in the domestic circuit, especially in the red ball format.
The 23-year-old, however, managed to successfully carry his form into the shortest format as well as he impressed with his line and length since being introduced into the attack by Sylhet skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza. He began by picking up the crucial wicket of Chattogram skipper Shuvagata Hom almost immediately in the seventh over of the innings.
"To be honest, there is not much of a difference in the two formats as line, length and variation play big roles in both versions of the game. For me, it doesn't matter as I tried to bowl according to the demand of the situation," the player of the match Raja told the media after the game yesterday.
The cricketer was picked ahead of the experienced seamer Rubel Hossain in the lineup and the pacer was able to justify the team management's decision with a very impressive outing.
Unafraid of mixing up the pace and often bold enough to bowl quickly and hit the deck hard, Raja picked up the wickets of Usman Khan, Unmukht Chand, and Nihaduzzaman in the latter stage of the innings to help Sylhet restrict Chattogram to the lowest total ever in an opening game of the BPL.
"I feel great and I tried to maintain a process. At the same time, there was a plan from the team management and I tried to execute that. I think it will boost me and the team and when you are able to start a tournament on a high note, it helps you to go forward as a player," he added.
Raja, who hails from Sylhet just like national team pacers Ebadot Hossain, Khaled Ahmed, and Abu Jayed, seems to be heading towards a similar trajectory, and his natural ability to bowl fast and read the batters well only bodes well for the pacer who is still in the early stage of his career.
"I don't think the pitch was that bowling-friendly, and you might have noticed that our batters were able to do well. Our bowlers tried to maintain a good channel and we were successful," said a confident Raja.
Although the tournament has just started, for someone like Raja it will be important to continue his impressive run in order to catch the eyes of the national selectors to make his case stronger for being considered for the shortest format in the current Bangladesh squad.