“While he is still taking baby steps in international cricket, Shadman can, for now, bask in the glory of his brilliant start to his Test career”
Bangladesh have not been afraid to give their youngsters a chance at the highest level in the last couple of years. From Mehidy Hasan who ripped England apart with his off-spin in 2017 and most recently Nayeem Hasan, who put in a wonderful all-round display against the West Indies in the first Test, Bangladesh have indeed been blessed to have such a young pool of talent by their side. Investing in young blood is always a good option as it gives them the opportunity and time to groom themselves into better cricketers in the future. Another good find from Bangladesh has been Shadman Islam, who scored a patient 199-ball 76 in his maiden innings in Test cricket.
The 23-year-old’s technique and temperament were brilliant to see. If this is the way he is going to approach his Test innings in the future, Bangladesh could have themselves another handy opener and could very well turn out to be the best partner alongside Tamim Iqbal when he returns from injury.
Bangladesh had to be patient a Dhaka on Day 1 to get the runs on the board. The pitch was a good one for batting. It had a tinge of grass on it, but there were plenty of runs to be scored. With Shannon Gabriel missing for the visitors, it was perhaps a good chance to make the best use of a bit of inexperience in the West Indies batting line-up. However, the West Indies were disciplined and runs did not come particularly easy. Even experienced campaigners like Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah had to toil hard to ensure that their team does not lose a lot of wickets in the closing stages of the day. With 259-5 on the board, Bangladesh will be feeling much more relaxed that Windies considering that they have two set batsmen at the crease and have Liton Das and Mehidy to follow.
However, the day belonged to Shadman. He played a calm and composed knock. There is something about the elegance of a left-handed batsman. We have seen the likes of Brian Lara, Kumar Sangakkara and many others make a name for themselves not just for the number of runs they scored, but also for the grace in their batting, by playing a certain shot better than any other player. While it is too soon to judge Shadman, things are looking bright for him. He has the ability to play off the front and the back foot. In fact, his first runs in Test cricket was a beautiful cover drive off Kemar Roach. He dispatched a full delivery on off stump with a minimum of fuss to get the ball rolling.
With the ball moving a bit and the fast bowlers setting him up with short deliveries, Shadman did extremely well to survive that phase. He was looking extremely comfortable in the middle and did not give the impression that he was making his debut. However, he still had to be wary of the West Indies bowling and did not take them for granted. He quietly kept the blocked deliveries with ease and kept the scorecard ticking. He eventually reached his maiden fifty off 147 deliveries with a brilliant sweep over square leg.
The stage was set for the young man to get a big one. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. It took a good delivery from Devendra Bishoo to get him out leg before. In his innings, he had already played all the shots in the book – cover drive, pulls, sweeps and cuts – and what’s more is that he did so with utter ease. One may argue that this was is not one of the best bowling units in the world, but, for a debutant, Shadman looked extremely assured and can be proud of his efforts.
His high bat lift and punches off the back foot were at times reminiscent of Lara. His stance was as compact as Tamim’s and when he drove, the ball, it seemed like something that came naturally to him.
Scoring runs have always been in Shadman’s blood. He top-scored in the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014, in which he struck 406 from 6 innings at 101.50 to go with a strike-rate of 75.46. His other teammates from that tournament Liton Das and Mosaddek Hossain have already made their international debuts. Even at the domestic circuits, he has been scoring plenty of runs. In latest National Cricket League, he has scored 648 runs from 10 innings at 64,80 for Dhaka Metropolis, which includes two hundreds and three fifties and a highest score of 189. This perhaps prompted his selection in the Test series and the Bangladesh team management will be glad that they took this call. Shadman has also done reasonably well for Bangladesh A – most recently against Sri Lanka A – for whom he has scored 348 runs from 11 innings at 31.63, which includes a century and a fifty.
Bangladesh will also be delighted to know that he is making good progress in the 50-over format as well, having scored 594 runs at 42.42 this season already. Perhaps a call-up to the ODI side is not far away either!
With runs under his belt, this is perhaps Shadman’s best season in competitive cricket and he will hope that it lasts for a long time. Things are going well for the stylish left-hander and if he keeps this up, he will go a long way. Bangladesh have not found a steady opening partnership since Tamim’s injury. Shadman could very well have solved some of the headaches. While he is still taking baby steps in international cricket, Shadman can, for now, bask in the glory of his brilliant start to his Test career.