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Imrul’s best ODI knock revives his hopes

  • Published at 08:07 pm October 21st, 2018
Imrul
Bangladesh's Imrul Kayes plays a shot during their first ODI against Zimbabwe in Mirpur Sunday Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

The left-handed batsman scored a 140-ball 144 to register his third ODI century, his first since 2016 in 13 innings, in the first ODI against Zimbabwe at Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka Sunday

Opening batsman Imrul Kayes made his highest ODI score not only to salvage Bangladesh’s innings but also proved his worth as a senior top-order batsman months before the World Cup. 

The left-handed batsman scored a 140-ball 144 to register his third ODI century, his first since 2016 in 13 innings, in the first ODI against Zimbabwe at Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka Sunday.

In the absence of senior opener Tamim Iqbal, Imrul on the day had started steady and only shifted gear in phases. 

Other top order batsmen Liton Das, debutant Fazle Mahmud and senior batsmen Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah also failed, keeping the pressure on the southpaw to build the innings. 

His first 50 runs came off 64 balls with the help of five boundaries and one over boundary but he accelerated the pace as he took 54 balls for his next fifty. 

With Bangladesh reeling on 139 for the loss of six wickets in 29.3 overs, Imrul at last found a stable partner in all-rounder Saifuddin as the duo added 127 runs, the highest seventh wicket stand in Bangladesh’s history. 

Imrul reached his third ODI hundred in the 43rd over. 

The 31-year old tucked a Donald Tiripano short-pitched delivery towards the leg side and took a quick single to reach his third ODI century. 

Imrul marked the moment with the “cradle celebration” to mark birth of his first child earlier this month. 

The dressing room rose up to their feet to acknowledge the crucial knock that saved their face against a lower-ranked side.

Right-arm pacer Kyle Jarvis removed Imrul in the 49th over but by that time, he took Bangladesh to a respectable total. 

Although he fell short of the 150-run mark while trying to hit a six, this innings was the second best in Bangladesh’s history, equaling Mushfiq’s knock that the latter had registered last month against Sri Lanka at the Asia Cup in the UAE. 

Imrul, who made his debut back in 2008, has never been a permanent fixture in the side as he is always in and out mode, and scripted his latest comeback in the Asia Cup.  

But this time around, his return occurred in a rather unusual way. 

The top-order batsman was axed following Bangladesh’s tour of South Africa in 2017 and had been playing in the domestic arena while his national team colleagues were fighting in the desert to gain Asian supremacy. 

But, following a couple of injuries and failure of the top-order, the panic-stricken management decided to fly him from Khulna and field him against Afghanistan in the very next day. 

To make things even more complicated he was deployed as a middle-order batsman for the first time in his career as a part of Bangladesh’s strategy but he ended playing an unbeaten 73-run knock against all the odds to sustain the Tigers’ progress.

However, Liton stole the spotlight with a swashbuckling century in the final and Imrul once again was consigned to playing second fiddle, the role he is accustomed to do with Tamim, even in the Tamim-less opening pair.

But he seemed to have other ideas as he played his finest ever ODI innings to attract all the attention and plaudits. 

Despite his heroics, it remains to be seen whether it is the crossroads of a struggling career or just an innings that arrives once in a blue moon.   

Imrul had hit his first ODI century in 2010 in his 10th ODI, against New Zealand in Christchurch, but from there it took around six years and 50 innings to get to his second ODI ton. 

He had hit 11 half-centuries in that six-year period, highlighting his trouble to convert the innings into big ones.

Bangladesh with the Zimbabwe series have started their preparation for the World Cup 2019. 

It is being widely said the team management will look into different combinations and the situation is just right for Imrul to grab it.