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Rookie spinners shine in Shakib’s absence

  • Published at 11:00 pm November 4th, 2019
Biplop
Bangladesh's Aminul Islam and Afif Hossain in action Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

Spinners Aminul Islam Biplob and Afif Hossain Dhrubo rose to the occasion in the T20I against India Sunday

When Bangladesh T20I and Test captain Shakib al Hasan was banned by the ICC, questions were raised over whether the team’s spin attack could maintain its potency in the absence of the star all-rounder. 

However, the fears appear to have been unfounded, as rookie spinners Aminul Islam Biplob and Afif Hossain Dhrubo rose to the occasion in the T20I against India Sunday.

The match at Arun Jaitley Stadium was only the second international played by young wrist-spinner Biplob. 

He had already impressed with a man-of-the-match performance against Zimbabwe during his international debut in Chittagong in September. 

Nevertheless, the opposition was much tougher this time around, with India reputed to be one of the best T20I sides in the world. 

Biplob was still praised by stand-in Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah on the eve of the match, with the acting skipper saying he was a good find ahead of the World T20I in Australia next year.

Biplob justified the praise almost as soon as he was handed the ball, picking up one of his two wickets in his very first over. 

Sharp turn from the young leg-spinner created confusion among the Indian batting line-up, who traditionally play very well against spin, and was crucial to earning Bangladesh a memorable victory.

“India are always a strong opponent. Performing well against a team like India is always pleasing. I try to give my best whenever I get the chance to play, and that is what I tried to do in the match. I will try to improve my performances if I get more chances,” Biplob told the media in New Delhi yesterday, before departing to Rajkot with the team for the second match. 

“There are challenges at every game in international cricket, particularly against stronger opponents. I will try to improve my bowling with the coaches,” he added.  

The young leg-spinner also said the Bangladesh team had a simple game plan to counter India’s strong batting line-up, which they managed to execute well. 

“I tried to bowl according to batsman out there. Our plan was to bowl in the right areas. Our captain Riyad bhai [Mahmudullah] instructed us to bowl in good areas, so that the Indian batsmen could not go for too many big shots,” Biplob said.

While Biplob certainly played very well on Sunday, the contribution of all-rounder Afif should not be forgotten. 

Afif’s no-nonsense off-spin bowling was not as flashy and did not create as much confusion as Biplob’s turners, but it was even more difficult to put away for runs.

Afif conceded a miserly 11 runs in his three overs, an economy rate of 3.66, and also took a sharp catch off his own bowling. 

In his first two overs, Afif conceded a total of only four runs, raising the pressure on India. 

Although the all-rounder showed his promise with the ball this time around, he had previously shown off his batting skills when he steered Bangladesh to victory with a crucial innings against Zimbabwe in September.

A pall of gloom may have descended on Bangladesh cricket when Shakib was banned by the ICC, but if youngsters like Biplob and Afif continue to perform, then the team would be well on its way to filling the void left by the star all-rounder.