Nasir Hossain prepares for a tight-rope act
It took Nasir Hossain two and a half years to become Bangladesh's finisher in ODIs, but eight months of poor performance had unseated him. Sabbir Rahman was preferred during the 5-0 whitewash over Zimbabwe in 2014, but after a respectable workout in domestic cricket, Nasir was retained in the World Cup squad.
Time out of the senior team has often been unfavourable for Bangladeshi cricketers. Most have a routine: brood, find domestic cricket uninteresting and then lack in intensity when they get back to the national team, if at all.
Not many have bounced back as quickly as Nasir has. He made 550 runs at an average of 50, with a century and four fifties, for Abahani in the Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League. The selectors also remembered what he had done since debut, having been one of their top-five run-scorers since the 2011 World Cup.
However, automatic entry into the XI does not seem likely. The make-up of the side suggests that he has to fight with Sabbir, his team-mate since age-group days, for a place. Both men play a similar game: quick runners with the ability to hit out towards the end of the innings, part-time spinners and better than most in the squad at fielding.
Nasir had been making the most of a difficult job rather well until 2014. After averaging 36, 34 and 64 in his first three years, he made 225 runs at 20.45 last year, his first bad one so far. And now he faces the prospect of balancing the team's needs to score quick runs with his own of settling back into the XI.
"It is not always possible to bat well in that position [at No. 6], you always have a 50-50 chance to score," Nasir said. "It was difficult when I was in the team and it will be difficult now as well. If you play well in a game or two, you can become a hero. You have to score when you go to bat. If you can score, it's good but if you can't, you know what I mean…"
When asked of what he had learned during the lay-off, Nasir took the opportunity to show off his funny side.
"Yes, I have learned a lot. See now you are talking to me, but then you hadn't.
"But time out of the team is usually very hard. You feel lonely. I have spoken to coaches and senior players to make up that space. I tried to stay with friends too."
Moving forward, Nasir said that he would have to go back to batting without rigid goals, and work according to the situation he faces in the middle.
"Numbers 5, 6 and 7 are important batting positions. Twenty runs can turn out to be a big deal. I will try to bat according to the team's needs. I don't have much of a target batting in that position. On most occasions, I get to bat for 12-15 overs. Sometimes I only get five-six overs. You can't really set a target for that. Maybe you can set a goal of scoring 40-50 runs in the last five overs.
Nasir added the team has been talking about the larger size of Australia's grounds and picking ones and twos will be a necessity.
"We have talked about the big outfield, which also means bigger gaps. The coach has told us to find twos regularly. Running between the wicket will be key. We have to keep in mind that there will be fewer sixes."
A lot had ridden on Nasir in Bangladesh's progress from 2011 to 2013. A lot of blame went to Nasir for their disappointments of 2014. After his hiatus, a lot will keep riding on him when Bangladesh need a quick finish or have to stave off a collapse.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84