Until Saturday afternoon, Afif Hossain was a virtual unknown who had trained with the Rajshahi Kings franchise in Mirpur. A few coaches and local scouts knew him from the group of Under-19 players who are training for the upcoming Asia Cup, which will be held in Sri Lanka later this month. It took Afif only four overs to announce himself on the big stage.
Primarily an opening batsman, Afif claimed 5 for 21 with his offspin for Rajshahi against Chittagong Vikings in the Bangladesh Premier League, becoming the first Bangladeshi to pick up a five-wicket haul on T20 debut. At 17 years and 72 days, he also became the youngest bowler to pick up a five-wicket haul in T20s.
Brought into the attack in the fifth over, after Rajshahi opted to bowl, he was taken for back-to-back fours by Jahurul Islam, but Afif had the batsman leg-before off the third ball, umpire Nadir Shah giving Jahurul out despite an inside edge.
In his next over, Afif bowled Chris Gayle with a full-length delivery for 5 off 15 balls, and let out a huge roar. Afif then took the wickets of Zakir Hasan, caught brilliantly by a diving Sabbir Rahman, and Saqlain Sajib and Imran Khan to complete his five-for.
"Wait till you see him bat," one of Afif's teammates said, soon after he had finished his four overs.
Afif, who recently made three tall scores in Under-19 practice matches, is a big-hitter. His coaches vouch for his batting talent, one of them even went on to say Afif reminded him of a young Tamim Iqbal.
Afif, born in September 1999 in Khulna, is a student of the BKSP, Bangladesh's premier sports institute that has produced many international cricketers including Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan.
During the Dhaka First Division Cricket League last year, Afif managed only two wickets in seven matches for his school BKSP.
He had been pulled up by the BCB for a suspect bowling action earlier this year, before getting it cleared in September.
After the BPL he will re-join the Bangladesh Under-19 set-up to prepare for the Asia Cup. Afif will now be the most well-known member of the Under-19 side.