Anamul delivers under expectation

Anamul Haque celebrates after getting a half-century AFP

Anamul Haque said he found a sea change between his previous hundreds and the one against West Indies in the second ODI, the most notable of which was the pressure to deliver under expectation.

His century of 138 balls against West Indies was the tenth hundred in his short career. He has gained a habit of making big runs, one that is often missing in Bangladesh batsman.

"There's a lot of difference between scoring hundreds anywhere else and one for Bangladesh," Anamul said. "I had fantasised of scoring a hundred in international cricket but never thought I would do it in my second game."

In domestic cricket he has scored seven centuries in the last 13 months: five in first-class cricket, two in the one-day competition plus a century in the Dhaka Premier League. The volume of runs last season had made him an automatic choice for back-up opener but he had a miserable time in an unofficial Twenty20 tournament in Zimbabwe which was his first brush with big time cricket. He was sent back to the Under-19s where he made two centuries against Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the Under-19 World Cup this year.

"I have scored ten hundreds in the last year. The difference between the previous ones and today is the experience of the bowlers," Haque said. "They bowl fewer loose deliveries and they have a lot of variations in the bounce and the lengths. There's crowd pressure and I am playing for the country, so there's a lot of difference."

The highlight of his innings was not just his footwork but the pace of the 145-ball knock. After reaching a half-century off 60 balls, Anamul took another 55 balls to move to 90 before waiting for another 24 balls to reach his century, off 138 balls. He then blasted 20 runs off the next six deliveries he faced, ending up with a 82.75 strike-rate. He would have attracted harsh words had he not made that final dash with two slogged sixes and a boundary off Andre Russell.

He said he slowed down after getting to fifty because Mushfiqur Rahim was batting at a faster rate and finding the gaps, added that his constant encounter with the getting to a hundred eased him through the 24 deliveries between 90 and 100. "I am familiarised with the nervous nineties. When the fielders are outside, it is better to find gaps and just take singles. Mushfiqur was batting with me, so I didn't have much to do.

"Bad balls were available so ones, twos and the boundaries were coming. I didn't need to go after the bowling; it would have been criminal if I tried something extravagant at that stage."

Mushfiqur and Anamul added 174 for the third wicket, just a run short of the all-time highest partnership for Bangladesh in ODIs. Mushfiqur scored 79 off 87 balls with the help of eight fours and a six, an innings that not only raised the run-rate but helped Anamul settle. He was also helped out by Tamim Iqbal in the first game when the more experienced opener went after the West Indies bowlers from the word go.

"Tamim kept telling me to stay positive, be confident. If he bats in that manner, I don't have to do anything. It was the same today because I was batting with the captain.

"Mushfiqur told me to carry on till the 45th over, whether we are getting the runs in singles or doubles. We can go for the big hits from that point, we have batsman behind us."

Anamul's century was the third by a teenager for Bangladesh after Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim but the early success has to be channelled through a proper approach which would iron out his footwork and reflex issues. The competitive age-group system through which he has come out of successfully would help him not to bask on the hundred too much and stay on the course of improvement.