Sabbir Rahman finally got something worth telling in his international career in the 88-run loss to New Zealand on Tuesday, but that too came not without a fair share of controversy.
Sabbir’s maiden international century, 102 off 110 balls, saved Bangladesh from more embarrassment in an otherwise lopsided contest in Dunedin and more importantly gave the team a much-needed conviction about his position ahead of the World Cup in the UK.
The innings could not have come at a better time for Sabbir, who was grappling with so many controversies, having returned to the side after the Bangladesh Cricket Board had reduced his international suspension by a month.
No one was willing to take the responsibilities of his controversial call-up, which was added to the pressure the player already carrying, leaving him in need of something very significant in the three-match series.
When it does come, the team, however, was in no mood of celebration as they were staring at yet another heavy defeat chasing a target of 331 runs and then getting slipped to 61-5.
Sabbir repaired the damage and put 101-run partnership with Mohammad Saifuddin for the sixth wicket, though their efforts could never raise the possibility of what would have become Bangladesh’s maiden win over New Zealand in their country.
Despite the win nowhere in the horizon, Sabbir did not stop celebrating his hundred as he jumped into the air, did ‘a bat-does-the-talking’ gesture after performing a sajdah.
While his excitement was understandable, many did not like his overjoyed celebration, especially when the team was struggling.
His ‘bat-does-the-talking’ gesture was not even liked by skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza, his backer in chief, who urged the batsman to control his emotion to avoid more controversies.
‘I asked him after the match [about the celebration] and he replied that he wanted to mean that his bat had spoken after a lot of days,’ Mashrafee said in the post-match press conference.
‘He was so happy as well as excited. I will expect that he will be able to control his emotion from next.’
Mashrafee, however, was still sympathetic for Sabbir because of his present circumstance.
‘This is his first international hundred and he had the reason to get excited. The situation he was in and he came here with that and I hope that his performance won’t stop here.
‘Hopefully, he will continue it, which is more important for us. If he stops here, it will be bad for us. I think he has a lot of things to give and he will have to go a long way,’ he added.
Sabbir also had his luck to thank for the innings as he could have dismissed on duck in the third ball he faced if Lockie Ferguson had not dropped a regular catch at fine leg.
While being at 95, Ferguson’s quick ball hit Sabbir on his ribcage but the 27-year old showed great courage to bat on and struck Tim Southee a boundary and a single to race towards his hundred, which made him 16th Bangladeshi score a hundred in ODIs.
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