Jubair ready for T20 challenge despite lack of experience
Bangladesh had attempted to be more aggressive in their limited-overs planning by picking legspinner Jubair Hossain for the two-match T20 series against South Africa. Jubair, however, has never played a competitive T20 match and will have to draw confidence from other formats.
When Mustafizur Rahman was handed his T20 debut against Pakistan in April, the result was encouraging. He showed signs of variations and returned figures of 2 for 20 in four overs, with the wickets of Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez.
Mustafizur was only the second Bangladesh player to make his T20 debut in a T20 international, after Shafiul Islam did so in 2010 against New Zealand.
Jubair, on the other hand, made his first-class debut in September last year while playing for Bangladesh A against Zimbabwe A. He had played some one-day cricket in the Dhaka League system but the absence of a domestic T20 tournament in Bangladesh since 2013 meant he had been deprived of playing in the shortest format.
In the two ODIs he has played so far, Jubair has picked up four wickets at an average of 20.75 but has conceded nearly a run a ball. There has been some concern, in the team management as well as among domestic coaches, over his control but Jubair has shown that he has wicket-taking ability.
On Thursday, he was quite straightforward about his lack of experience in the format, but added that legspinners were generally effective in T20s.
"I have never played T20s at any level," Jubair said. "I think I played some games back in my hometown but it is not worth mentioning. I don't even remember the name of the teams or tournament. But we have seen that legspinners are effective in T20s."
Jubair has no significant recollection of bowling in a T20 game, but he said that he will take confidence from the Fatullah Test, where he removed Virat Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha with googlies.
"I have more confidence now, especially through the wickets in the Fatullah Test," Jubair said. "I didn't have as much confidence before that game as I hadn't played any matches for a long time."
Lack of match practice had been a major issue with Jubair after he had missed the World Cup squad earlier this year. He played few first-class matches but had a long gap before he was considered for the Fatullah Test, and was included especially at the request of captain Mushfiqur Rahim and coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who had told the selectors that they had a specific plan with him.
Jubair's statement of spin being effective in T20s could be backed up by the 2014 World T20, where Imran Tahir finished as the top wicket-taker with 12 wickets at 10.91, while Samuel Badree and Amit Mishra were along among the four bowlers to have picked 10 or more wickets in the competition.
However, legspinners have not had much success in domestic cricket in Bangladesh. Alok Kapali has so far been their highest wicket-taker among legspinners, while Sabbir Rahman is now more of a part-time legspinner who bowls offspin.
Jubair was the first specialist legspinner to play Tests for Bangladesh and only the second after Wahidul Gani to play ODIs. He will certainly be the first in T20s if he gets picked in any of the T20s against South Africa. Was he having any apprehensions of playing in the shortest format?
"No, there is no fear."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84