In his last press conference, Sabbir Rahman said he wanted to forget 2018 and it took him 19 days to do something worthy in 2019 when he struck 85 off 51 balls in the Bangladesh Premier League on Saturday.
Sabbir now holds the record of the highest individual innings in this year’s BPL, overtaking Rangpur Riders’ Rilee Rossouw’s 83-run knock against Dhaka Dynamites.
Sabbir was a shadow of his own self ever since the Bangladesh Cricket Board slapped a six-month international ban on him for abusing a fan in social media in early September.
He could do hardly any justice to his reputation as one of the cleanest hitters of Bangladesh in the first six matches of the ongoing BPL, when he could make only 56 runs with 20 being his highest.
A big innings was long overdue, which seemed to be coming soon once he agreed to open the innings in the last two innings. He made 31 in these two matches, but it at least gave him some confidence to play his natural game.
Sabbir exhibited this confidence from the fifth ball he faced on Saturday once he dispatched Mashrafee bin Murtaza for a boundary and did not look back since as he struck five fours and six sixes in his record innings.
He batted with such an authority that David Warner, with whom he put a 51-run stand, looked subdued at times. He did not slow down until Nicholas Pooran came to the crease to take the charge from him.
If Sabbir was a bit selfish, he could have kept the strike more to try for his century but he selflessly allowed Pooran to go for his shots.
With a little luck he still could have made it but Rossouw took a fine catch at the deep to end his endeavour in the final over.
Agonisingly still, Sylhet lost the match, despite Sabbir’s record innings propelled them to the highest score of the tournament until that point. It also denied Sabbir his due recognition, which also made his team-mates sad.
‘Feeling really sad for Sabbir, because if we had won he would have been man of the match,’ said Sylhet pacer Taskin Ahmed.
Man of the match or not, the innings brought at least a breathing space for Sabbir, who was swimming in troubled water for quite some time.
Sylhet Sixers innings
Liton c Farhad b Mashrafee 11
Sabbir c Rossouw b Shafiul 85
Afif run out 19
D Warner c Hales b Mashrafee 19
N Pooran not out 47
Jaker not out 5
Extras (b 1, w 7) 8
Total (four wickets,20 Overs) 194
Did not bat: Irfan, Mehedi Rana, Taskin, Kapali, Lamichhane
Fall of wickets: 1-13 (Liton), 2-52 (Afif), 3-103 (D Warner), 4-185 (Sabbir)
Nazmul 2 0 18 0
Mashrafee 4 0 31 2
Shafiul 4 0 43 1
Farhad 3 0 35 0
Nahidul 2 0 16 0
Sohag 2 0 16 0
C Gayle 3 0 34 0
Rangpur Riders innings
C Gayle c Sabbir b Irfan 0
A Hales c Liton b Kapali 33
R Rossouw c Liton b Taskin 61
De Villiers b Taskin 34
Mithun c Warner b Taskin 14
Nahidul b Taskin 19
Mashrafee not out 5
Farhad not out 18
Extras (b 1, lb 6, w 4) 11
Total (six wickets,19.3 Overs) 195
Did not bat: Nazmul, Shafiul, Sohag
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (C Gayle), 2-63 (A Hales), 3-130 (R Rossouw), 4-137 (AB de Villiers), 5-171 (Mithun, 17.4 ov), 6-171 (Nahidul)
Irfan 4 0 34 1
Taskin 4 0 42 4
Lamichhane 4 0 21 0
Rana 4 0 57 0
Kapali 3.3 0 34 1
Result: Rangpur Riders won by 4 wickets
Man of the match: Rilee Rossouw (Rangpur Riders)
Toss: Rangpur Riders
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