Naeem Islam is set to earn his first Test cap for Bangladesh in the first Test against New Zealand starting Friday at Chittagong. Having made his ODI debut in the recently-concluded three-match series against the same opposition, he will become the 51st Test player for Bangladesh.
"Once I heard that I would be in the Test team, I was very happy. It is like a dream for me," Naeem said. "There are no personal goals for me but to bat for a long time. Although I like batting between four and six, I would stick to whatever the team tells me to do."
Primarily a middle-order batsman, his useful offspin will give Bangladesh the option of an additional allrounder as they look for their first series win against New Zealand. "I am used to bowling 15-20 overs so and if the captain asks me to bowl more than that, I must try to do that," said Naeem.
Though run out without facing a single ball in his very first innings in the second ODI at Dhaka, Naeem put up a much better show with an unbeaten 46 in the next match at Chittagong. He also contributed with the ball picking up three wickets at 34.66.
This apart, the 21-year-old who plays for Rajshahi in Bangladesh's domestic circuit, has been in good form for the last two seasons and his time in the Bangladesh Cricket Board Academy and the Bangladesh A team has admittedly helped his chances of staking a claim in the Test team.
"I have been playing with the Academy and A team in foreign conditions so probably I felt much calmer because of that," said Naeem, who captained the Academy team in their 2-1 ODI series victory against the Sri Lanka Academy XI last month.
Rajshahi captain Khaled Mashud backed Naeem's inclusion and felt the player deserved his chance. "He has the quality of playing in the longer version and he deserves to play for Bangladesh given his domestic performance. I think he is a rare breed among offspinners because he can read a batsman and not just bowl offbreak for the sake of bowling."