There was more than a little consternation before the five-ODI series between Bangladesh and West Indies at the fact that Bangladesh were going in with four debutants against a team that performed so powerfully in the preceding Test series. By the end of yesterday's second match at the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium, those doubts would have been blown out of the water. One of the newcomers, Anamul Haque, was the player-of-the-match after a match-winning 120 while another, Mominul Haque, who was playing his first innings, was instrumental in Bangladesh plundering 68 runs off the last five overs to set up their 160-run win.
What doubters may not have realised was elucidated by veteran left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak after the victory in the first match on Friday. He said that these were not the type of debutants who get nervous or bowed by pressure. Perhaps he was hinting at a new, even more fearless type of Bangladesh cricketer not weighed down by memories of a team being beaten from pillar to post.
Whatever the reason, Anamul, nicknamed Bijoy, was certainly fearless as he took the team from a precarious 21 for 2 to a formidable 292 for 6. Answering questions in the press conference after the match, he displayed the same precocious streak with which he hammered 20 runs off seven balls after reaching his hundred in the 47th over.
"I have scored 10 hundreds in 11 months this year -- five in the NCL, two in the DPL, two in the U-19 WC and one here [actually eight in less than eleven months -- two for Abahani in the Dhaka Premier League, three for Khulna in the National Cricket League, two for the Bangladesh under-19s and one for Bangladesh]," he said when asked about the difference between scoring hundreds at lower levels and at the international level. "The difference is in the experience of the bowlers, they bowl fewer loose balls and they have variations. There's crowd pressure and playing for the country, so there's a difference."
This new era of brave performers and convincingly beating higher-ranked opposition can be traced back to the Asia Cup in March when Bangladesh narrowly finished runners-up. Anamul said being part of that team helped hone his positive mentality. "Saqlain Mushtaq [the spin-bowling coach] told us in the morning that everything is part of habit, so is winning. In this regard, I think the Asia Cup has worked in that way because I have been in a winning environment in that tournament and it has carried over here."
He took some time, understandable as it was his maiden century, to go from 80 to 100. When asked whether he was nervous in the nineties the answer was short and indicative of the confidence with which new faces enter the national side these days. "No, I am used to it [scoring hundreds]."
When pressed further on why he took 32 balls to get to his hundred he said, "There are overs when you can't score, so I think those overs fell between my score of 80 to 100. Mushfiq bhai [Mushfiqur Rahim] was batting with me, so I didn't have much to do. He told me to carry on till the 45th over, whether we are getting the runs in singles or doubles. We can go for the big hits from that point, we have batsman behind us. Bad balls were available so ones, twos and boundaries were coming. I didn't need to hit, it would have been criminal if I tried something extravagant at that stage."
He also said that batting with experienced seniors helped. "Tamim [Iqbal] kept telling me to stay positive, be confident. If he bats in that manner [in the first ODI on Friday], I don't have to do anything. It was the same today because I was batting with the captain."
When asked about how he felt after scoring a century in only his second match, the right-handed opener said, "I had thought about such a thing, but it was only in my fantasy that I would score a century in my second international match."
While satisfied with his achievement, he was
hungry for more -- an increasingly common trait among the new breed of Bangladeshi cricketer.