Charged with the task of opening the bowling for Bangladesh, and facing up to AB de Villiers in the first Twenty20 international against South Africa on Sunday, Arafat Sunny said he was focused more on bowling to his plans instead of the batsman at the other end. Sunny dismissed de Villiers off the sixth ball of the first over of the match the hosts lost by 52 runs.
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza brought Sunny into the attack at the start to counter de Villiers' decision to move up the order, only the second time the South Africa batsman has opened in T20 internationals. Off the last ball of the over, de Villiers, looking to make room, chipped a length delivery off the back foot to cover, where Mashrafe took a simple catch. Sunny said the plan was to refrain from bowling full or short at de Villiers and to keep the batsman in check.
"It is important not to concentrate too much on the batsman," Sunny said on the eve of the second game between the two sides, "otherwise a bowler goes under pressure."
"I tried to bowl according to my plan and not focus too much on the batsman. I think it helped me. I was told that I cannot bowl too full or even slightly short at him (de Villiers). I was only focusing on a specific length to keep him in check. Luckily he aired one and I got his wicket. I think the pitch was helpful to the spinners, so I could find a bit of turn and try to control the scoring rate."
Sunny also took the wicket of JP Duminy, who fell to an excellent catch by Nasir Hossian at deep midwicket for 18. He kept things tight for most of his three overs in the game, ending with returns of 2 for 19.
In his four T20s since January 2014, Sunny has opened the bowling twice and has an economy rate of 6.70 and an average of 11.16, and a strike rate of 10 in the format. His ODI numbers are also promising, with 22 wickets in 13 matches at a strike-rate of 30.7.
Bangladesh haven't played domestic T20s since December 2013 and as one of the more important bowlers in the format - along with Enamul Haque Jnr, Shakib Al Hasan and Abdur Razzak - it is important for Sunny to gain international exposure. The bowler, however, knows he could, on occasion, lose his place in the XI, depending on the team combination and conditions. He played one ODI for the side during the World Cup and despite finishing the highest wicket-taker for Bangladesh in the ODI series against Pakistan, he played only one game against India.
"Sometimes the team combination can be different," he said. "If the opposition has a number of left-handed batsmen in their line-up, it can be different. Pitches vary too. I am always prepared to play, but it is all up to the team management."
Meanwhile, Soumya Sarkar, who opened the innings in the game against South Africa, expressed frustration at his failure to convert starts. He scored 7 in the T20, but in the ODIs against India his scores of 40, 34 and 54 could have been more substantial knocks.
"We discussed how we couldn't play according to our plan," he said. "The two early wickets kept us on the back foot, otherwise we had planned around 40-45 runs in the first six overs. It would have helped the next batsman. I think everyone, including myself, understand that I am getting out after getting set. I feel disappointed that it is hurting the team. We are discussing ways to get out of this situation."