Yasir, Afif bring fresh air

Samsul Arefin Khan . Chattogram | Published: 00:00, Jan 28,2019

 
 

File photos show Chittagong Vikings’ batsman Yasir Ali (L) and Sylhet Sixers’ batsman Afif Hossain in action in the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League Twenty20 tournament for their respective franchises. — New Age photos

In the last few years, Bangladesh national cricket team was unable to get fresh new batting talents, which made them rely mostly on their senior cricketers, who were playing for them for more than a decade.
The dependence on the core group of senior players – Tamim Iqbal, Sakib al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mahmudullah – was clearly visible as they played a key role in most of the recent wins.
With the Tigers in desperate need for some greenhorns, who could succeed the seniors in near future, young Yasir Ali and Afif Hossain came under the spotlight in the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League.
Though none of them are complete strangers in local cricket, as Afif already played a Twenty20 international and former Under-19 batsman Yasir showed consistency in domestic cricket throughout the year, they could grab the headlines only through BPL.
Starting the tournament as a replacement of Mohammad Ashraful, Chittagong Vikings’ Yasir, who mostly warmed the bench in the dugout in previous two editions, created an instant impact, hitting a vital 41 off 34 balls against Khulna Titans for his team’s winning cause.
The 22-year old did not look back since then as he had a fairytale journey in the sixth edition of BPL, striking three fifties in his next six innings to show his caliber as a hard-hitting batsman.
Yasir’s last two fifties of 58 and 78 runs came in the recent two matches in losing cause against Rajshahi Kings and Rangpur Riders in his home city Chattogram, but the approach and mentality he showed in big chase only showcased his class.
The right-hander, who carried great form in the tournament, having performed well in National Cricket League, Bangladesh Cricket League and ACC Emerging Cup, already broke into the top five scorers’ list in the ongoing BPL.
Yasir scored 253 runs in seven innings at an average of 36.14 and also with a great strike-rate of 134.57 that gave a fair indication about his ability and consistency.
‘It’s all were possible because of the blessings of Allah and hard work,’ Yasir told reporters after their match against Rajshahi Kings on Saturday in Chattogram.
‘I don’t have that much of pressure as my team management, my skipper and fellow team-mates give me immense support. They all gave me mental support and told me that although I haven’t played in the last two years if I can play any match this year, I should try to give my best.
‘They said I have been playing really well for the last couple of months and considering that form I should do really well. So I didn’t feel that much of pressure that time,’ he added.
Afif made a stunning debut in BPL in the fourth edition when he claimed five wickets for Rajshahi Kings in his first match in 2015 and his exploits at the Under-19 also earned him a spot in the national team for a Twenty20 match against Sri Lanka last year.
After scoring a duck in his debut he was not considered again but with his batting for Sylhet Sixers this year he might not have wait too long for another call up.
Although he was yet to complete a fifty in this edition, he played some crucial 40-odd innings that earned him 218 runs in 10 matches, the eighth highest in the league dominated by overseas batsmen.
‘Yasir and Afif are part of our High Performance Unit. They are being nursed well. Naturally, we expected them to do well,’ said chief selector Minhajul Abedin.
‘Yasir is doing really well. Afif may not be that extraordinary but his progress is also good. If he can achieve a little more maturity, he can be an asset for us,’ he said.

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