Finisher Nasir adds to reputation

Nasir Hossain cuts one away to the off side AFP

The first time Nasir Hossain was picked for Bangladesh, the then chief selector Akram Khan made an ambitious comment about a newcomer. He said that Nasir's strength was to bat to his team's needs. Hardly anyone believed him, but Akram has been proved right so far over two years of Nasir's career.

The latest example was in the third and final ODI against New Zealand when Nasir was in charge of finishing his hardest job till date. He had helped chase 290 against India last year but the 308-run target was the highest he would have to reach.

"The target was 300-plus but my target was 80-odd in 12 to 13 overs," Nasir said. "So I didn't think about the bigger target. I was focused on the 80 runs I needed to get. I really enjoy these situations.

"After they scored 307 I told Raj bhai [Abdur Razzaq], 'I will have to score around 40 in the end to finish this game'. And it actually happened. When you score in these situations, your team will benefit with every run."

Nasir, like most finishers in one-day cricket, has devised his own way of doing things in the end overs. He doesn't look at the bigger picture, some of his shots are inimitable and due to the nature of his batting position, he can adjust to situations very quickly.

The figures so far back his approach although he hasn't played a lot of international matches. He averages 117 in six matches won batting second at a strike-rate of 88.30. He has been not out on four of those occasions, chaperoning the chase right till the winning runs are scored.

Nasir has always been known as a finisher, right from his school days for BKSP, the sports institute. When batting first, Nasir would sometimes get more time in the middle but it was always the hustle and bustle of the chase that earned him the big bucks. At a very young age, he became a player of high demand in Dhaka's club cricket after helping BKSP to the Dhaka Premier League. His strength, to bowl ten tight overs and score quickly at the end, was valued by Abahani for a few years and now Gazi Tank Cricketers. He has grown up following Michael Hussey, particularly in one-day cricket where the former Australia batsman first made his name.

"I have been batting in these positions since my Under-13 and Under-15 days. Someone else wouldn't be as comfortable as I am in this position. For instance, I can't do what Tamim bhai (Iqbal) does as an opener, and vice versa.

"I like to bat my own way without imitating someone else. But I really liked to see Michael Hussey bat. I followed how he built his innings, started and finished it."

Coming in to bat so low down the order also has its disadvantages. Nasir often has very few overs to make a start and end up with a substantial contribution. He is aware of the growing competition for places in the team, a new phenomenon in the country's cricket.

"The Bangladesh team isn't the same anymore. There are a lot more performers and there's competition for places. A player now cannot be in the team if he plays badly. There are very good cricketers in the squad, and outside it too. The performers are quite matured. Some players are making heads turn in the Under-19s, academy and Bangladesh A teams."

For now, Nasir is happy at No 7. But the thought of scoring big comes to him just like any other batsman. "It does occur to me from time to time that a century wouldn't be a bad thing. When I bat with the tail, I feel if I could bat a little higher up the order I could push for a bigger score.

"I will score a century if it is in my fate. I don't spend too much time thinking about it. I want to do my job properly. I want to provide the team with a good score when we bat first and win the game when we chase. That's all."