Feature

Abdur Razzak and Tushar Imran climb first-class summits

Tushar Imran and Abdur Razzak have been room-mates, team-mates and friends for most of their playing careers. Now, the duo is closing in on two significant landmarks in Bangladesh's first-class scene

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
17-Jan-2018
Associated Press

Associated Press

Tushar Imran and Abdur Razzak have been room-mates, team-mates and friends for most of their playing careers. Now, the duo is closing in on two significant landmarks in Bangladesh's first-class scene. Over the past week, Imran made his 10000th first-class run, while Razzak claimed his 500th first-class wicket. Both feats are the first in the history of Bangladesh cricket.
"We remain room-mates as senior players," Imran told ESPNcricinfo. "I am very happy for Razzak. We both had a chance to reach the milestones in our last game but now we have another crack at them. Razzak has been a great servant of Bangladesh cricket, representing the senior side for a long time. He really deserves this record."
Imran and Razzak have both been in blazing form in the last seven first-class seasons, scoring 5056 runs and taking 340 wickets respectively. The prolific form has helped Khulna Division win the NCL four times during this period, which took them to six overall trophies. In the process, they have eclipsed Rajshahi Division's five NCL titles.
Both work relentlessly during the pre-seasons, with prime focus on their fitness. "It is a big factor. I am in the field literally all year round; if it rains, I am in the gym, otherwise I am constantly at training," Imran said.
"For me, it was being ignored for the first three seasons of the BCL that egged me on. When I pushed for runs for Khulna and finally got a regular place in the South Zone team, I wanted to do even better."
In the 2016-17 BCL, he made 731 runs at an average of 91.37, which gave him 1270 runs in the 2017 calendar year. He rates it as his best year in cricket.
Razzak too is known to be a diligent cricketer who banks on accuracy and change of pace to fox batsmen. He has been churning out the wickets and topping first-class charts in the last five years regularly.
However, when talking of their excellent first-class careers, questions about their struggles in Test cricket are bound to come up.
Imran began his international career with the reputation of being a highly talented cricketer, but failed to deliver and became one of the examples of Bangladesh's mid-2000 trouble with the bat. Razzak is Bangladesh's first bowler to reach 200 ODI wickets but he could never nail the main spinner's spot after Mohammad Rafique's departure; neither could he be Shakib Al Hasan's foil thereafter.
However, one can also argue that neither was taken into consideration when they started to dominate domestic first-class cricket. Imran played his last Test in 2007 while Razzak's stop-start career ended in 2014, when he also lost his ODI and T20 places. It is observed that by ignoring Razzak, the national selectors (under Faruque Ahmed and Minhajul Abedin) have wholly discredited Bangladesh's wealth of left-arm spin. Razzak's name still crops up whenever a selection is due, but the likes of Saqlain Sajib, Arafat Sunny and, currently, Sunzamul Islam have been preferred ahead of him.
The non-selection, however, hasn't deterred him one bit. The impending milestone had given him an occasion to reflect on his career. "I want to reach the 500-wickets milestone," he had said last week. "It is going to be very big for me. It is also quite exciting as I am always keen to perform."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84