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Feature

Ebadot repays the faith with blockbuster spell

How a little-known volleyball player rocked up and shocked New Zealand

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
04-Jan-2022
Ebadot brings out the salute  •  AFP/Getty Images

Ebadot brings out the salute  •  AFP/Getty Images

"Can we have a bit of a noise please, the bowler is really giving his all."
In the middle of Ebadot Hossain's second spell on the fourth day, captain Mominul Haque's unmistakable shriek could be heard on TV. It prompted a number of Bangladesh fielders to make some noise, encouraging Ebadot to bowl another over. Someone asked him to keep his pace up.
Shortly afterwards, Ebadot, the fast bowler whose average lingered in the 80s before the Mount Maunganui Test, delivered three massive blows for Bangladesh. And in doing so, he breathed fire into a Test that was meandering. On the horizon now is rare overseas success; Bangladesh can dare to dream of a Test win, an away win, their first-ever in New Zealand.
For that, they still have to pick up five wickets and knock off a target they are set. But regardless of what happens on the final day, Ebadot, the volleyball player who is still employed by Bangladesh Air Force, has announced himself on the world stage.

****

Ebadot hit the top of Will Young's stumps in the fourth over of his second spell. Young had hardly taken a misstep in his 69, his second half-century of the Test, until then. He'd added 73 along with Ross Taylor for the third wicket. But the delivery asked a vital question: whether to play forward or back. Young went back trying to pull the not-so-short ball, but missed.
Next ball, Ebadot slung one into Henry Nicholls' pads. The umpire turned down the appeal, and replays showed that it would have gone over the top of the stumps. Bangladesh were out of reviews anyways, partly thanks to Ebadot's over-enthusiasm.
But Ebadot did the next best thing. Off the very next ball, he got an inswinger to burst through Nicholls who tried to present the full face of the bat, but left a bit of gap somewhere. His colleagues were ecstatic at that point, running towards him.
Absolutely on fire, a sight to behold, Ebadot ran into a shaky Tom Blundell in his next over, beating him once before trapping him lbw. Ebadot's pace got the better of the New Zealand wicketkeeper, whose review also returned unfavourably.
Much of Bangladesh have very little idea about Ebadot except for his salute after taking a wicket. Three wickets for no run in the space of seven balls against the world champions was certainly a great introduction. The incredible spell is likely to grow in stature should Bangladesh script history.
"We haven't done well in the past in New Zealand, but this team wants to do well here this time," Ebadot said. "We want to do better abroad, and there's no better place to start than here in New Zealand.
"We [the pacers] get a bit more support in the first two hours in away conditions. We are still learning how to bowl in home and away conditions. We are trying to reverse the ball when it gets old. We want to improve the pace bowling department by trying to bowl better in different conditions and with the new and old ball."
Ebadat made his presence felt with both the semi-new and the old ball. Coming in as second change, he had also bowled a superb first spell, 9-2-23-1, in which he removed Devon Conway, the left-hander who scored 122 in the first innings.
He had also convinced captain Mominul into taking two pretty poor reviews, both of which were struck down. Taskin Ahmed too was excited at the other end, taking a review for a potential lbw decision when Taylor had middled the ball.
Taylor as always going to be the big wicket. He's still out there, having survived a dropped chance on 17 and then a run out on 29. Ebadot played a role in that mix-up, when he intercepted Shadman Islam's throw from gully, only to see his relay throw towards the stumps go awry.
Up until this point, Ebadot's day was going like the rest of his 11-Test career. He averaged 81.54 before this game. It had taken him all of two years to take ten wickets. Those who noticed him, started to feel that Ebadot wasn't made for Test cricket. Bangladesh's stock of fast bowling is on the rise in the last few years, so he may have perhaps been replaced soon.
A senior player is often by his side, at mid-on and mid-off, offering advice. It is believed that he needs help with field placings and lengths. But his biggest asset - his pace - has always interested fast bowling coaches from Courtney Walsh to Charl Langeveldt to Ottis Gibson.
Litton Das, his senior colleague believes everyone needs to have patience with Ebadot, and that he hasn't played long enough to be judged. "I didn't start well in my international career," he said. "None of us in the current setup are doing that well too.
"So you have to give the players enough chance. We also have to consider that Bangladesh play Tests infrequently, so he doesn't get to play regularly. Fast bowlers don't have everything under their control.
"Sure, he has a high bowling average but he showed his ability today. I am hopeful that he will keep proving himself in the future too. This is only his 11th Test. A cricketer needs 15-17 Tests to understand the game. We should give him a bit of time."
Ebadot's pace is a major asset for Bangladesh. He has misfired for three years now, but the selectors, team management and the coaching staff have kept faith in him. Definitely, they see something in him that the rest have missed. Sometimes these tough decisions bring the most wholesome, albeit unexpected, results. Ebadot couldn't have struck at a better time for Bangladesh, and for those who backed him.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84