The post-Test match headlines on Sunday were expectedly dominated by the performance of Bangladesh's newbie Shohag Gazi, who was by far the most effective Bangladeshi bowler in the first Test.
Outside the radar though was a bowler -- making a comeback to the international scene after almost a year -- who shrugged aside the 'obstacles' of bowling on a wicket that was flat and rarely assisted the bowlers. Rubel Hossain's two wickets for 53 during the West Inidan second innings at an economy rate of 2.78 may be hugely undervalued when compared to the debutant's six-wicket haul, but it was Rubel's burst late on the fourth day that initiated the West Indian collapse.
The 22-year-old pacer hit the deck in the right areas and rose to the challenge and put in a far better performance as compared to the initial sessions of the game.
“I was returning to Test cricket after a while, so initially I might have been a little jittery. But I tried to give my best effort right from the first innings. I was more confident in the second innings and hence put the ball in the right spots,” Rubel told the The Daily Star over the phone yesterday.
Of the two wickets that Rubel got on the fourth day, one of them was the prized scalp of Chris Gayle, who was beaten with a short of a length delivery that landed on middle and jagged away just enough to find the edge of the danger man's bat.
“I think I bowled quite a good delivery to get rid of Chris Gayle. Gayle is someone who'll no doubt punish you if you are a fraction wide. His wicket also gave me a lot of confidence,” Rubel said.
That was the lone bright spot for the hosts in that particular session as the visiting batsmen piled on the runs following the wicket. The second-wicket partnership between Darren Bravo and Kieran Powell was looking deadly and took the West Indies over the 200 mark.
Rubel, however, continued to plug the runs and eventually compelled Bravo to play a shot away from his body and nick one to the keeper. “At that point of the game, my target was not to allow them to score too many runs. So I just kept on bowling in the right areas and tried to make it hard for them to score boundaries. The wicket eventually came,” explained Rubel. Bravo's wicket changed the entire scenario of the game. The visitors lost their last 8 wickets for just 62 runs and gave the home side a sniff at a rare victory.
Rubel's effort in the first Test also brought a sigh of relief for the national selectors who had earlier stated that they were worried about Bangladesh's pace-bowling department. “There's no doubt about Rubel's ability. He is a very good bowler. I was a little scared for him since he was returning to cricket after an injury. But he performed well in the second innings and it was his wicket that turned the tables for Bangladesh,” said BCB chief selector Akram Khan.
With the wicket at the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium in Khulna expected to be another flat deck, Rubel's sporadic bursts on the field will no doubt play a major part in Mushfiqur Rahim's bowling plans for the upcoming Test.