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Mohammad Isam in Mirpur
November 11, 2012
Bangladesh's last Test, played almost a year ago, was a memorable one for batsman Shahriar Nafees. Though Pakistan defeated them, he scored 97 in the first innings. The long break from Test cricket will end when they take on West Indies on Tuesday, but Nafees, 26, doesn't want to say much about the skewed FTP. Tackling the West Indies bowling attack, which offers enough variety to keep the free-stroking Bangladesh batsmen on their toes, is more important to him.
"I don't want to bring up the FTP and use it as an excuse," Nafees said on Sunday. "If I don't do well, nobody will remember what I did or didn't do in the last year. If I do well, people will say that I have made a successful comeback.
"We played well against West Indies last year and did well individually against Pakistan. So if a player can continue playing cricket that would only be a good thing. The players don't have control over the FTP, so we have to make the best use of opportunities."
After that Mirpur Test against Pakistan, Nafees was left out of the centrally contracted players' list. He, then ran into trouble in a tournament in Bangalore playing for Bangladesh A, when he showed dissent at an umpiring decision and was sent home. He was handed a suspended ban by the Bangladesh Cricket Board, but was later picked for the A side in September
He hasn't been scoring prolifically in domestic cricket and hasn't performed exceptionally for the A team. In 23 matches in first-class, one-dayers and Twenty20s, he has scored only 528 runs. But Nafees has 2011 in his mind, a year in which he struck five fifties, which included that knock of 97 against Pakistan.
"I am happy, I played well in ODIs last year and got runs in Test cricket. I played regularly in 2011 so I was pretty happy. But I haven't played after a gap, so I have to do well," he said.
But to do well, Nafees will have to come out on top against a strong bowling attack. Sunil Narine is the most talked-about bowler in the West Indies attack but the pace attack will be a challenge to face as well. "They are in good form. Ravi Rampaul, Fidel Edwards and Tino Best are their strike bowlers and they also have some good spinners. We can't just work on one bowler because they are on a high note. We have to take everyone seriously," he said.
Nafees was hit on the face by Edwards in the first Test against West Indies last year (and was struck on his eye by Shahadat Hossain two months ago). Rampaul said short-of-length deliveries will be used depending on the batsmen's weaknesses.
"It's too early to say how the wicket will play, we have some good quick fast bowlers who bowl at 90 miles an hour, and if we put the ball in the right areas we will do well. As a bowling unit we tend to look at the batsmen and at their weakness, if the short ball is one of their weaknesses then we will exploit it," Rampaul said.
Rampaul has toured Bangladesh a couple of times in the past, including in the 2004 Under-19 World Cup, so he should adapt quickly to conditions, which he knows will assist the slow bowlers.
"From past experience, I can say that the wicket in Bangladesh is slow and it helps the spinners. It's basically a wicket where you'll have to use your variation. We have played in all parts of the world. We will just try to stick to the basics and bowl well," he said.
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