Bangladesh v Pakistan, Only T20, Mirpur April 24, 2015

Mushfiqur's words were confidence boosters - Sabbir

Sabbir Rahman was the primary aggressor after Bangladesh had lost early wickets © AFP

Shakib Al Hasan bowled four tight overs and was the innings top-scorer with an unbeaten 57; Mustafizur Rahman took two for 20 in his international debut. But Sabbir Rahman's entertaining unbeaten 51 pipped both to the man-of-the-match award.

Of course, there was reason for choosing him ahead of the other two. To complete the seven-wicket win over Pakistan, Bangladesh needed an innings like Sabbir's, especially when they lost three wickets within the first six overs of the chase. And the men out were Soumya Sarkar, run out without facing a ball, Tamim Iqbal, who scored two hundreds and a fifty in the ODI series, and Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh's form batsman for more than three years.

Sabbir had only spent seven minutes at the crease during the just-concluded ODI series, having batted only in the first game. But he brought the confidence of the whirlwind 123 against the Pakistanis in the practice match two days before the ODI series. It was the visitors' first wake-up call, after they went on to lose the game by one wicket in Fatullah.

So when Mushfiqur saw Sabbir walking in, he knew a confident hitter was heading to replace him. He just told him to trust the wicket, something that Sabbir says not many outgoing batsmen say.

"When I was crossing Mushfiqur bhai, he told me that the wicket is superb," Sabbir said. "He said, 'You just have to stand there and play'. Sometimes batsmen get out and say negative things like the wicket isn't great. But Mushfiqur bhai's words gave me a lot of confidence."

Sabbir is used to such chases, particularly from domestic cricket. He is a middle-order batsman who is building a reputation as a finisher. Needing 104 from 14.2 overs was right up his alley, and with someone like Shakib at the other end, the job was slightly easier.

"I did not see much difference between these situations in domestic and international cricket," he said. "I always try to play seriously. My confidence rose after that hundred in the practice game. In this innings, I didn't put much planning into the approach.

"I just always try to be positive when I go to the middle. I play well when I bat positively. I hope I keep playing in this way. I wasn't afraid, I just tried to play ball-to-ball. I didn't see who was bowling," he said.

Shakib was batting freely at the other end, so Sabbir swiftly moved to 11 off his first ten balls. Bangladesh needed 67 from the last ten overs when he suddenly swung into action. He flat-batted Wahab Riaz over mid-off and squeezed one through the covers, before swinging wildly and the top-edge taking the ball for his first six.

In Wahab's next over, Sabbir again flat-batted him over the bowler before deftly touching the ball to get a second boundary in the over through fine-leg. At the start of the 15th over, he went for a reverse-sweep off Saeed Ajmal. Two more fours followed off Wahab, who conceded three fours in total in his last over and went for 39 in four overs.

The win was a matter of formality from that point, and Bangladesh achieved something they haven't been able to do since 2007: beat Pakistan in a T20. "The biggest thing for me is that Bangladesh won the T20. I always think that if my one run helps the team, I am happy," Sabbit said. "One was for gold medal, and this was a first T20 win over Pakistan. On both occasions, my plan was to be positive. I am happy to have contributed to Bangladesh's win."

He struck seven fours and a six in his 32-ball innings. He was brilliant in the field, effecting a run out off the last ball of the innings. Like many young players are asked, Sabbir too faced the question about the format of cricket he prefers. Sabbir said: "For me T20s come first, then the ODIs."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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