Deserving Sarkar grabs spotlight with World Cup inclusion
Among the nine first-timers in Bangladesh's 2015 World Cup squad, the inclusion of Soumya Sarkar has drawn the most attention. He is the least experienced member of the squad and is being asked to fill two critical roles: back-up opener and third seamer.
Despite what the next couple of months hold for Sarkar, the day when the BCB made the announcement turned out to be a great one for the young allrounder. The media had been gathering all morning as the Dhaka Premier Division Super League match between Sarkar's Prime Bank Cricket Club and Abahani went on.
First he took two wickets with his medium pace to help skittle out Abahani for 161 and then struck 97 to complete the victory and ensure a first Premier League title for his club. The match ended two hours before play, and the Prime Bank players celebrated on. A couple of hours later, BCB president Nazmul Hassan read out his name among the World Cup fifteen. Sarkar was playing football with his team-mates when the media came out of the delayed press conference and looked for him. Life could not be better for the man who will only turn 22 during the World Cup.
"I always had the confidence that if I play well this season, there will be an outcome," Sarkar said. "I had the hunger within myself that if I play well, I will get a chance. The selectors must have thought about me before they picked me. I was thinking of today's match, since it is an important one. It does feel great that we became champions and I got a chance to play in the World Cup for the first time. It is a big deal for me."
Sarkar is the youngest of three brothers who grew up in the southwestern district of Satkhira. His Pushpen Sarkar played club cricket for a number of years, and is now a businessman. He has been Sarkar's guardian in Dhaka, and also during his years in the BKSP where he was admitted in 2006, in seventh grade.
When he got into the cricket team of the sports institute, the talent came through. In an interschool one-day match, Sarkar struck 250-odd. He played for BKSP's Premier League side for a few seasons before joining Victoria Sporting Club and later Prime Bank. A couple of years ago he struck a double-hundred in an Under-19 game against Qatar.
Though his lack of big domestic runs has been talked about, Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha took an interest in Sarkarand he eventually made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe, where he struggled against moderate pace in a short innings.
He might still be some way away from being the third seamer in a two-man pace attack, but for now he can rest assured that he deserves a place among the fifteen. His primary role of third opener/top-order option is due to his runs in the Dhaka Premier League this season. He ended up as the fourth highest scorer, but more importantly he has provided Prime Bank with good starts regularly.
The season has started positively for him, and he would hope that the rest of it, particularly the World Cup, goes off as smoothly.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84