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After impressing at home, Nasum Ahmed wants to shine on flat, tough surfaces as well

Nasum's new-ball efforts have kept New Zealand quiet all series

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
08-Sep-2021
File photo: Nasum Ahmed took a four-for in the 4th T20I  •  AFP

File photo: Nasum Ahmed took a four-for in the 4th T20I  •  AFP

Nasum Ahmed's pivotal blows in two important phases of New Zealand's innings amounted to a four-wicket haul, his second in as many T20I series in the last four weeks. It doesn't necessarily make him an overnight star in the Bangladeshi audience, but it suggests that a few factors are going well within the team.
Nasum removed Rachin Ravindra and Finn Allen in his first two overs. Allen's wicket deprived New Zealand of a fast start. His wickets of Henry Nicholls and Colin de Grandhomme, in the 12th over, ensured Bangladesh wouldn't be chasing even a moderate total.
Nasum, who made his T20I debut earlier this year in New Zealand, isn't the most celebrated talent of Bangladesh's cricketing system. He is actually a product of the first-class grind, who somehow caught the selectors' eye through one or two performances in T20 tournaments. Mostly, he won the race to selection through deduction - Bangladesh lack good young left-arm spinners these days.
He struggled in his first series in New Zealand, famously saying the blue sky deterred his teammates from taking catches. But his accuracy seemed to work for the team. He has been seen as a moderate to long-term prospect, with the T20 World Cup in mind. His eight wickets against Australia, at 11.50 bowling average, won him the team's approval.
On Wednesday with the series on the line, Nasum's job was to mainly contain Allen. The instruction was to bowl slower on this pitch, but seeing Allen take shape of a big reverse-hit - Allen already struck Shakib Al Hasan - Nasum thought otherwise.
"I most enjoyed taking the Finn Allen wicket," Nasum said. "I bowled it much quicker as he tried to play the reverse sweep, which forced him to mistime the ball. I wanted to take his wicket in the previous matches too. He was also my first international wicket.
"When Finn Allen was playing the reverse sweep, Riyad bhai was telling me to bowl slower. But I noticed that he was turning quite early when I was approaching to bowl. It prompted me to bowl quicker, which forced the mistiming."
Nasum said that he has long conversations with bowling coach Rangana Herath, who reminded him to bowl slower on this type of pitch. This, he said, he listened to mostly.
"I don't know if I have become an important member of the team or not, but I get a lot of support from the teammates. Especially when the captain and seniors help out, it inspires me. I speak to our coach too, and we have a good understanding.
"Yesterday he was telling me that I should bowl a little slower, which is what I exactly tried to do today," he said.
Nasum said that he isn't given the role of being a wicket-taker with the new-ball, even though he tries to use the hard seam as much as possible. "I hit the seam more (with the new ball). It was a turning wicket, so I tried to bowl in good areas. I bowled a few cross-seam deliveries.
"I am also getting used to bowling in the powerplay. I am not told to take wickets, but to stick to what I can do. I try to bowl as many dot balls as possible," he said.
Nasum said that he is developing a spin-bowling partnership with Mahedi Hasan, who is also bowling well off-late, taking 1-21 in the fourth game. "Mahedi and I speak to each other when we are bowling together. We tell each other that we will cover for each other if any of us bowl a bad over. We encourage each other," he said.
Nasum is also aware what awaits him in the T20 World Cup next month. There's a lot of talk about how the Bangladesh spinners will adjust to conditions in Oman and UAE after getting so much assistance at home. "As far as preparation is concerned, we are winning. It naturally helps with the confidence. I am sure we will go into the T20 World Cup on a high, and do well there.
"I must adjust to every condition as a professional cricketer. I have to bowl well on flat and turning wickets, and in every situation," he said.
For cricketers like Nasum, doing well for Bangladesh is sometimes the only route for survival at this level. There's going to be fewer favours for him in the selection table when form and performance isn't top-class. There are younger spinners waiting in the wings, but more importantly, his profile isn't big enough to aid his cause. But when he is doing well, it is important that he makes the best of his form. This was Nasum's day, and more such days will only make his case stronger.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84