Moment yet to sink in for Abul Hasan
It was a surreal day for Bangladesh cricket. The recovery from near capitulation, the record ninth-wicket partnership for the country, and the fifty by the No. 8 batsman, were all significant because of Bangladesh's position at 193 for 8. The moment Abul Hasan, a genuine tailender, turned Sunil Narine behind square on the on side for a single, then realised it was placed well enough to pick up a couple, the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium lit up.
As he completed the second run, he had already dropped his bat and then, curiously, celebrated facing the press box before turning to his team-mates in the dressing-room, who were at the edge of their seats after he passed the 80s. He jumped on Mahmudullah's lap and smiled. With a hint of pride and mischief, Abul was smiling like a mischievous kid who had just done something everyone else would be awed by, not only him. He became the first No.10 batsman to score a century on Test debut, after 110 years.
It certainly looked as if everyone had enjoyed his innings. Chris Gayle wanted to know where his bat came from. "It's an English willow, Tamim bhai [Iqbal] got it for me," a bewildered Abul told the media at the press conference, also his first one of this scale. The feat had yet to sink in for the 20-year-old, barely an hour after the day's play.
"I just wanted to bat like a batsman, that's all. [Mahmudullah] Riyad bhai just told me to bat like a batsman," he said. "When I played Under-15 cricket, I was a batsman, then I became a pace bowler."
And his mantra with the bat was simple: "I just wanted to survive the good ball, and take advantage of the bad ball."
However, his team-mates were concerned when the new ball was taken at the start of the 82nd over. "We were enjoying his batting till they took the new ball. That's when we started getting nervous. I think he was around 84," said Tamim.
"This was some innings. I haven't seen any No. 10 do this, not in my career so far. I thought some of his shots were those of a pure batsman. I would have been proud if I had played them," he said.
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson was equally stunned, and praised Abul's effort. "I haven't seen one this dramatic. You actually don't want it to be on the receiving end, you'd like it for your team-mate to do it.
"It's a horrible feeling but he played excellent cricket. He played some fantastic shots, rode his luck at times and he was good in defense when he had to. This is why I love Test cricket."
Abul said his next task would be to help Mahmudullah get to his hundred, and was also aware what his role in the team is, as a new-ball bowler primarily picked for his pace. However, it was a day to talk about batting and the partnership. "I want to support Riyad bhai as much as possible and take this innings further tomorrow morning. Definitely, I want to see him score a hundred."
Coming in as a replacement for Shahadat Hossain as a fast bowler, it would be hard to tell at this stage how it would shape him as a cricketer. But such a start should give him a tremendous boost, especially after he dropped Imran Nazir in a World Twenty20 match in September. The ridicule had hurt him at the time, he said. "After the World Cup, I felt bad thinking maybe my (dropped) catch cost the team a win. But everyone told me, anything can happen," he said.
His unbeaten 172-run ninth wicket stand is a Bangladesh record, and in the process became the third Bangladesh batsman to score a hundred on debut, after Aminul Islam and Mohammad Ashraful.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh