Shamshur makes case for Bangladesh squad
Shamsur Rahman has chosen the biggest stage in Bangladesh's domestic cricket to re-launch his bid for a place in the senior side. His unbeaten century in the Dhaka derby tilted the result towards Mohammedan Sporting Club who beat Abahani by two wickets. The innings came at a time when the national selectors are looking at more top-order options ahead of a crucial series against New Zealand next month, and for the remainder of the 2013-14 home season.
After the match-winning innings which also helped Mohammedan become the only side in the league to complete three wins out of three, Shamsur remained cautious of his chances ahead. He emphasised on his better fitness, which has been questioned lately.
"Definitely the innings is one of the best in my career," Shamsur said. "But I am not looking very far, as far as the national team is concerned. There are many matches for the national team ahead and I am sure that I will get my opportunity.
"I think I am extremely fit because of the fitness training camp for the national members. The hard work is surely paying off. But along with that I also worked with my batting as I failed to capitalise the fifties into big score."
It was also comeback innings of sorts for Shamsur, who had run into poor form in the last few months. After a productive BPL 2013 where he averaged 42.10, scored six fifties and was second-highest Bangladeshi scorer, Shamsur's tour with Bangladesh A wasn't up to the mark. He batted at 27.71 in seven matches, with two fifties.
Bangladesh will go into the New Zealand series with empty spots in the top-order, particularly No 3, after Mohammad Ashraful's suspension. Shamsur has however opened the innings in the three Twenty20s he has played for the country so far. Jahurul Islam and Anamul Haque are incumbents in the job but Shamsur's claim has become stronger after Sunday's knock.
Anamul missed the Zimbabwe tour in May, Bangladesh's last assignment, due to college exams, but the young batsman is expected to take up the position against New Zealand in the limited overs matches. Jahurul looked compact in Sri Lanka, but he made only 91 runs in four innings in Zimbabwe. He is also without a Test half-century and will be under pressure to keep his place in the upcoming Test series. Shahriar Nafees and Junaid Siddique have played both as an opener and No 3, and batting positions are likely to give the selectors some headache.
What would help Shamsur is his matured approach in this high-pressure contest, at least locally, where the battle of prestige takes precedence over everything else. He was batting at No 4, a position he is not too familiar with in any form of the game. And despite being overshadowed by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mohammad Nabi during partnerships, it was his cool exterior that held Abahani at bay.
"It was extremely pleasing to score runs in the biggest match of the competition. In the first half, the ball was coming a bit slowly but the wicket became flat in the second innings. I believed that if only I could bat till the end we would come as victorious," he said.
Mohammedan captain Mashrafe Mortaza praised Shamsur, particularly mentioning the two crucial partnerships after they lost two early wickets. "It was an unbelievable innings from [Shamsur Rahman] Shuvo. It was very important that he finishes the game while at the crease. He was supported by Dilshan and Nabi, who made up for a top-order failure. I thought it was a good chase," he said.
Shamsur is likely to feature in the three-day practice match against New Zealand early next month, and despite his caution, it will be a spot in the Bangladesh team that he will keep his eye on later this season.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here