An away Test win on their 100th match that too against a stronger opposition — the date March 19, 2017 has already been registered as one of the most significant days for Bangladesh cricket. Such a victory in a landmark match can take the confidence level of the entire dressing room to a new high and the momentum, which the team has got from this triumph can be really handy for their upcoming assignment, says Sabbir Rahman in an exclusive interview with Cricketsoccer.
The Bangladesh batsman replaced out of form Mahmudullah in the playing eleven at P Sara Oval and scored two timely 40’s.
“It was not easy for me at all to replace a senior player on such a track. Prior to the match day, I came to know from the coaches that I am in the playing eleven and will bat at No.4,” Sabbir, who paused his celebration in the dressing room to talk with us, said.
“Normally I bat at No. 6 or 7, but when I was told to bat up the order, I took it as a challenge. It was an opportunity for me to prove myself that I belong at this level. I knew I was taking someone else’s place in the team so I was ready to sacrifice my usual batting position. By God’s grace, I have been successful in both the innings,” he added more.
Sabbir, who was playing only his sixth Test, looked very comfortable as he scored 42 in the first innings and a crucial 41 in the second. His knock on day five came under a pressure-cooker situation as Bangladesh were two down early during their run chase of 191 and it was Sabbir along with Tamim steadied the ship.
However, Sabbir comes across as a batsman, who excels while batting under pressure. We have seen the evidence of that in the limited-over formats. On Sunday, he did the same at the Test level. According to the 25-year old Rajshahi-born cricketer, batting under tough situation provides him the opportunity to become the ‘hero’ of the team and he has the shots in his armory to release the pressure.
“Irrespective of the format and situation, I always try to play my natural game, which is dominating opposition’s bowling. While batting under tough situations, I always try to release the pressure by hitting a few shots. Maybe at times, some shots do not result in boundaries, by I can understand that I am hitting the ball well, it boosts my confidence. So, I always try not to take any pressure on myself, rather than imposing it on the opposition.”
Meanwhile, going into this Test match, Sabbir knew, he had to deal with the Sri Lankan spin-trio of Rangana Heratha, Lakshan Sandakan and Dilruwan Perera and he had his game plan ready.
“I knew the ball was going to turn here. So I planned to use the crease more, playing sweeps and reverse sweeps. Also, I tried to play an attacking game to unsettle their rhythm,” he explained.
The current Bangladesh Test team has a nice blend of young and experienced cricketers. Sabbir feels the equation between the seniors like Shakib al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim or Tamim Iqbal with juniors like him is the USP of this unit.
“As a junior, I feel really comfortable in the dressing room. The seniors support us a lot. Sometimes they take our opinion on various matters, like setting the field and all. Whereas at times when we tend to ‘cool down’ [lose our focus] in the field, they motivate us. Overall, it is a good team.”
Talking about the historic moment on winning the 100th Test, Sabbir describes it as one of the most memorable ones in his career so far.
“It is indeed a proud moment for me and the team, probably the biggest achievement in my career so far. Very few can achieve this (Being a part of the team which wins its 100th Test match). I am thankful to God for this.”
Finally, Sabbir mentioned, this victory has provided Bangladesh a momentum, which can be handy for his team, even in limited over’s format as Bangladesh are playing two ODI series going into the all important Champions Trophy in England in June this year, which will be followed by their home season (Possible Test series against Australia and Pakistan) and the tour of South Africa.
“We are playing a lot of cricket this year and it is all about building confidence. I feel the momentum which we have got from this victory will be handy for us in the ODIs and T20Is, even I feel we can carry it forward in the Champions Trophy and other international series,” the charismatic Sabbir explained before rejoining his teammates for the post-match celebrations.