Unbelievable to have scored a hundred - Nafees
Shahriar Nafees had a stunned look in his eyes after he had completed his hundred, the first by a Bangladeshi batsman in Twenty20s. Ordinary performances in the format by him made this innings a bit surprising, but according to his opening partner Lou Vincent, who has scored two centuries in Twenty20s, Nafees looked good for a big one this evening.
Vincent and Nafees put together an unbroken 197-run opening stand, a world record for the first innings in a Twenty20 game, and pumped some much needed life into a dull tournament. They hugged each other at the press conference, after hearing it was the first time a team hadn't lost a wicket in the first innings of a Twenty20 match.
"I have never played such an innings, at least not in T20s," Nafees said. "I didn't think about reaching a hundred until I had crossed fifty. I just wanted to bat till the end."
Nafees smiled broadly while explaining the final moments of his innings, as he reached his century off 67 balls. "It is a bit unbelievable that I have scored a T20 hundred," he said.
His opening partner Vincent played a major hand in his innings by freeing him up to let him play his own game. Vincent, in his unbeaten 51-ball 89, struck eight sixes, hit long and hard, and he said that batsmen with more strength are far more likely to hit Twenty20 hundreds. "You have to set the tone by utilising the field by hitting boundaries over the top in the first six overs," Vincent said.
"Then you have to build from that. It is always good to get a Twenty20 century. Chris Gayle has nine but that's pure strength and class. Little guys like us, we have to run real fast."
Nafees, for his part, was resourceful at the crease. He used its depth and placed the ball in gaps in several parts of the ground. He lofted the ball quite a few times too, especially against the spinners, and had three of his boundaries dropping just short of the rope. Nafees has the ability to play all around the wicket, which showed in this innings. His repeated use of the scoop is, however, a new addition.
The knock also injected some motivation into his team-mates after they went down in the first three games. Khulna Royal Bengals have finally given their hometown something to cheer about, and Nafees' century could improve attendances at the ground, a factor that has been a worry for the BPL this year.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent