August 14, 2001

Al-Sahariar wants to play five full days

"He is a powerful hitter of the ball and an immensely gifted batsman. But like most of the Bangladeshi players he is a bit uncertain at this stage - which ball to play and which to let go - because on Bangladesh wicket you are just playing everything." Told Trevor Chappell about Al-Sahariar, widely known as Rokon. Yes, the word "Powerful hitter" gives an exact picture how Al-Sahariar deals with the ball no matter who the bowler is. As long as he is in the wicket, runs come so easily! He is a bit matured now after crossing so many ups and downs in his career.

Like other Bangladeshi players he had to put up with agony since he was a victim of continuous ins-and-outs, which hampered a lot. As he had his debut at the age of fifteen only, he always felt the extra pressure that he could be dropped at any moment from the squad. That is factual - we can see Al-Sahariar's cricket career did not get enough opportunity to flourish, it did not run smoothly from the very beginning. Once he played a bad innings, the very next moment he found himself out of the squad without being given a second chance. In fact he was the scapegoat of the selectors.

Is he basically a one-day player? Al-Sahariar does not agree. He is equally comfortable at both versions. He has two centuries in Green Delta 2000-2001 and did not play badly against New Zealand in 1997 and West Indies in 1999 in the longer version. His ability to go for power shots virtually gives the impression that he loves to play one-day. By nature he possesses some quality shots in his pocket, which gives the distinction. Often he was seen smashing the ball all around when his teammates were struggling in dealing with the same kind of delivery. In the earlier years, this sort of risky venture cost his wicket when he was quite set with the wicket. Al-Sahariar has changed views now - he has become choosy in ball selection and has learnt to bat with patience.

He was futile in the first two ODI in Zimbabwe, which prompted an omission from the next one played at Bulawayo, in a batting friendly track. He wept for that because he thought he had missed the valid chance to get some good runs. Fate smiles at him in the second innings of the second Test. He made a good mark with his bat (68) to reach his first Test half century but got out while trying to go for a wild shot.

He learnt a vital thing - the importance of concentration at the dead hours of the sessions. The last fifteen minutes before Lunch or Tea or at the end of the day, are crucial because at those stages a batsman starts loosing his concentration. Al-Sahariar is preparing to be watchful at those junctures. He requires some improvement in playing square drive and pull shot and in running-between-the-wicket. These are sectors he is presently working on.

Javed Miandad is giving some handy briefings, which are essential - Al-Sahariar thinks. This ace Pakistani is putting his top quality expertise across the Bangladeshi batsmen. The notable thing is that Miandad is not telling them to change their style - he rather wants them to alter the attitudes.

As to play in Multan, Al-Sahariar is not carried away with the conventional theory. He is not thinking to play for a draw. He wants to play Test and wants it for five days full. There are lots of things yet to learn and he needs to know these gradually.

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