Sledging Lara and other tales
If you talk about a bat that was given to me to play with a cricket ball, it was by Badal chacha, one of my young uncles, who gave it to me. Two months before I was admitted to Bangladesh Krira Shiksha Pratisthan, he told me, "There's a sports institute where you have to go for a trial." So that's when I started playing with a leather ball, with the Taurus bat he gifted. I have had many bats afterwards, but I will always remember that one.
I was never the autograph-hunting type, but I took one of Brian Lara, one of my childhood heroes, during the 2007 World Cup, after we had completed the match against West Indies in Bridgetown, Barbados. I made an unbeaten 38 in that game, though we lost quite badly. It was our last game of a pretty successful tournament, so I was glad that I finished it on a good note.
First time on a plane
We went on an Under-15 tour to India, but we took the bus there. So my first ride on a plane was when I went to Dubai for another U-15 tournament - the Asia Cup. Unfortunately, we lost both games, against Nepal and India. I scored 20-odd against India, who were captained by Piyush Chawla. It wasn't a memorable tour but I do remember it was my first time in an aeroplane.
First international win
Against Zimbabwe, in August 2006. I remember not having to do much as I was fielding instead of keeping wicket, which was done by Khaled Mashud, who was also leading the side that day in place of Habibul Bashar. In fact, it was the match in which Shakib Al Hasan and I made our debuts. Zimbabwe scored 190-odd and Shahriar Nafees scored an unbeaten century, so we won quite easily.
During the 2007 World Cup. Lara had a reputation of walking without waiting for the umpires. I was very excited at the time, seeing him and keeping wicket while he was batting. He tried to cut left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak but didn't connect. The ball hit the ground and came to me. I appealed instantly. But no one else was appealing, and the man who always walked did not walk. So I kept quiet for the rest of the game. I know it wasn't really a sledge, but it was an innings worth remembering.
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka