22-year-old Afif Hossain is one of the young cricketers who managed to emerge out of Bangladesh cricket’s ongoing gloom. The attack-minded left-hander had a promising start to this year’s BBPL for Rajshahi Royals and sat down with The Daily Star’s Abdullah Al Mehdi to talk about his scintillating opening partnerships with national teammate Liton Das, the upcoming T20 World Cup and much more. The following are excerpts of the interview:
The Daily Star (TDS): How was it growing up and playing cricket?
Afif Hossain (AH): I have enjoyed cricket ever since I was very young. When I was playing in Khulna at the very beginning, my father was the one who supported me a lot. When I was at BKSP from class seven, it was hostel life and it was difficult to stay alone. After five to six months I made new friends and little by little things became easier. It did not affect my cricket as most of the time during my BKSP days I was on the field and it was enjoyable, but when I used to return to my room, I felt different.
After BKSP, when I finished my HSC exams, I lived with my aunt in Dhaka and she supported me a lot.
TDS: Secret to your formidable partnerships with Liton Das?
AH: We have been playing together for a long time. Even in last year’s BPL, I opened with Liton bhai for Sylhet. So that works in our favour; there are no problems with communication. The consistency has been there because both of us are going through a good patch.
TDS: Thoughts on prolonging the partnerships with Liton?
AH: We have been able to provide good starts in the Powerplays. In T20s, you have to maintain the run-rate even after the Powerplays and one of the batsmen needs to take risks, which sometimes works out but when it doesn’t, a wicket may fall, but it’s all for the team.
TDS: Do you have a certain tendency towards dominating proceedings, such as during your 76 against Cumilla Warriors?
AH: I like to keep scoring as long as I am batting and that day, Malan had struck a hundred for the opposition and the target was big, so we had to attack from the beginning.
After Malan struck his ton, I felt that if I could manage to play a big innings in the BPL then it would be good for me and build my confidence. So, I was trying to learn something from that innings, which I then tried to apply to my own innings. I was hitting the ball well that day and
I wasn’t really aiming for a ton but thinking that I would stay until the end and finish the game. I tried to get the team into a position where even if I got out, the match would be finished easily.
TDS: Is there a BPL ton in future?
AH: Everyone wishes to score big runs but thinking that is not enough. I obviously wish to do that too and I will try to do it but first of all I try to play for the team. If the team demands that we need a big score then risks will have to be taken and I can’t just play for myself.
TDS: Experience of the BPL this time around?
AH: It’s a matter of luck to be able to play with such big-name players every year. There are players who I didn’t imagine I would be playing with or against when I was young. We watched them play while we were growing up and there is a lot to learn from them and I am trying to absorb things to use in my game.
TDS: Thoughts on the upcoming T20 World Cup?
AH: I have only recently played a few matches for the national team. If I get the opportunity to play the World Cup, I will try to do something good and contribute to the team’s cause. I will try to give my team and my country something but I am not focusing on anything outside this [BPL].
TDS: Thoughts on current U-19 team and are you expecting them to contribute to Bangladesh cricket in the future?
AH: Yes, obviously. If you look at the last U-19 batch where me, Saif [Hassan], [Mohammad] Naim, [Mahidul Islam] Ankon, Hasan Mahmud and many more have played, most of our U-19 batch are playing here. Those who have gone for the U-19 tournament this time around are even more experienced. When we were playing for the U-19s, only me and Saif were playing the Dhaka Premier League while the rest were in First Division. This time, at least 12-13 out of a squad of 15 or 16 have played the Premier League so my hope is that they will do well.
When you play the Premier League, U-19 becomes easy since in the Premier League you are exposed to national players.