It was the Chittagong Kings' fourth game in the Bangladesh Premier League and in their pursuit of a 153-run chase, they lost the form opener Nasir Jamshed in the fifth over. The commentators had a shockingly tough time pronouncing the next man's name as he walked in steadily from the dugout.
Ziaur Rahman was also making his fourth appearance in the Twenty20 competition but it was only his second opportunity with the bat. No sooner had he smashed four sixes in a typically quickfire 32-ball 48, there were murmurs in the press box of lost opportunities and the need for a big-hitter in the Bangladesh Twenty20 team, a notion that has hardly been fulfilled since 2006.
Players have had to bat extra aggressively to become Twenty20 players both internationally and domestically, and as a result it either propelled someone like Junaed Siddique or slowed down some of their progress. For the last six years, Ziaur has been touted as a Twenty20 specialist but either he had mediocre seasons or he was ignored after showing promise. His batting has been the main attraction (a skill he had to develop after his fast bowling career was jeopardised by an ankle injury early on).
"I like to hit the ball, I love to bat aggressively so that's why I think I am termed as a Twenty20 player, but I have played first-class cricket and I always play one-day matches in the Premier League so I can play in all the formats," Ziaur told The Daily Star Sport yesterday.
Ziaur walked off unbeaten with Kings skipper Mahmudullah Riyad as they won quite comfortably, but it was one of those remarkable days for the all-rounder during the 2011-12 season that ultimately put him in the national squad for the upcoming Zimbabwe tour. But it hasn't made him all that happy because according to Ziaur, it is only the second part of the deal; the next, performance, is up to him.
"This is the easy part -- getting the opportunity to be in the squad -- but it will all go down the drain if I don't perform for the national team whenever I get an opportunity," he said. "Everyone performs in the national team, so I have to do that too. I am happy to get the chance, but I have to perform and unless I can do that, I shouldn't be too pleased."
Most of the other remarkable days came while he played for Old DOHS (now called Prime Bank Cricket Club) in the Dhaka Premier League. He was given the task to open the batting and after a game or two of getting used to, he started making runs on important occasions; the biggest coming against defending champions Abahani when he made 91 in an atypical innings (despite two-third of the runs coming in boundaries). He batted for more than two hours and put DOHS in a prime position to launch into a big score (which they did and beat Abahani). "[Khaled Mahmud] Sujon bhai gave me the chance, the belief and the freedom to bat up the order for Prime Bank. He told me to play my game at the top of the order and that really was helpful," he said.
It was a busy season for Ziaur, as he also played regularly for Khulna in the National Cricket League but during the first-class competition, he was met with a tragedy. His first child, a baby girl, died 40 hours after being born. He took the loss in his stride and continued to play the game, his bread-winner.
According to those he plays with, his loss has made him mellower but Ziaur remains the likable teammate that everyone knew. But his insistence that it wasn't too important at just getting the opportunity was slightly surprising. Was he too harsh on himself?
"I'm not too hard on myself (laughs). But I believe in performance and since I did well this season, I think that I should perform in the national team.
"I never thought of getting a place in the side when the season started, I focused more on the performance," said Ziaur.
Some of these picks by the selectors might be questioned as having belated wisdom because a few Twenty20 specialists should have been prepared by now, but Ziaur's call-up should be encouraging news for the rest of the cricketers in the country.