What is the opposite of dropping a player after the Test series in which he made the only half-century in the team's most disastrous Test match in history? In Bangladesh's selection vernacular, the answer seems to be to recall the same player in the Test, ODI and T20I sides three years later.
Not that Nurul Hasan, the player in question, didn't deserve his return to the senior side for the Zimbabwe tour. The Bangladesh selectors and team management are hoping that Hasan can reprise his match-winning knocks from this month's Dhaka Premier League T20s, most of which came at a high strike rate that bailed out his side Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club. It is a situation Bangladesh have often found themselves in when it comes to ODIs and T20Is: someone at No. 6 or 7 unable to provide the final flourish without the help of a senior batter at the other end.
"When I was dropped from the national team after the West Indies tour [in 2018] - to be honest with you - it played on my mind constantly for the first few months," Hasan told ESPNcricinfo. "But I soon realised that selection was never in my control, and feeling bad about it would affect whatever cricket I was going to play from that point onwards. I no longer bother about these things. Now I am more worried about whether I am working hard enough, and [am] focused enough."
Hasan's Test inclusion for the upcoming solitary Test in Zimbabwe is an overcorrection by the selectors who had poorly handled his axing in 2018. But for the white-ball squads, he is the first in line among Bangladesh batters to have worked hard on the specific role of being a limited-overs finisher and he has also done well at it. It has, however, been a difficult road for Hasan, who said it took him a bit of time to get over being dropped from the Test side.
"It is a difficult phase, and a sort of time when frustration sets in very easily," he said. "But the senior players have supported me. I spoke a lot to Mushfiq [Mushfiqur Rahim] bhai in Sri Lanka this April. He told me about his training methods and lifestyle. Riyadh [Mahmudullah] bhai [also] checks up on me from time to time. They have really kept me going."
Bangladesh's senior players have always admired Hasan for his fighting ability, but after being unceremoniously dropped, he had to find out what went wrong. His first-ball ducks in both innings of the second Test against West Indies on the 2018 tour was perhaps a catalyst for his soul-searching, but it was his link-up with Mizanur Rahman Babul, the former fast bowler-turned-coach, that helped him turn a corner.
"I have been working on my batting with Babul sir for the last couple of years," Hasan said. "I am comfortable working with him. I do my usual routine of batting practice and fitness work under him. Since I last played for Bangladesh three years ago, I have spoken with Babul sir about what needs to improve. He has helped me in all three formats separately ahead of every domestic tournament.
Specifically for big hitting, for example, Babul worked on Hasan's balance and shape when trying to apply power on the ball.
"I have always worked hard, but I didn't really understand why I was doing a lot of those things," Hasan said. "Often I felt I was going through the motions. But now as I work with Babul sir, we also talk about what needs to be done specifically. His involvement gives me a lot of accountability. This especially happens when I get out for a low score; we discuss the dismissal, for instance. We always find time for a post-game analysis.
"We spoke about finishing the innings, which I started working on with him before the last BPL [in 2019]. I had to work really hard on my balance when going for big hitting. Balance is as important as power when it comes to big hitting, so he helped me a lot in this aspect."
It was Hasan's big hitting for Dhanmondi in the ongoing DPL T20 that brought him back on the selectors' radar. So far, he has struck the most sixes (23) and holds the highest strike rate among batters with 300-plus runs. Also, most of his 346 runs have come in difficult chases against Mohammedan Sporting Club, Prime Bank Cricket Club and Legends of Rupganj.
Hasan says that a bit of freedom to bat his way has worked well for him and his team.
"Our team was more one-day oriented ahead of the tournament, which worried us a little," he said. "I realised after the first two matches that I had to bat deep and basically finish the game for the team. Otherwise, it would have become difficult. But our supportive team management has given me the freedom to have a specific role, and be confident about it."
Hasan is going to have a similar role for Bangladesh, as he is most likely to bat in the lower middle order in both white-ball formats. The T20I side particularly suggests that Bangladesh have finally started looking for aggressive options rather than safe ones in the middle and death overs. Hasan and Shamim Hossain - who has earned his first Bangladesh call-up after being named in the T20I side for the Zimbabwe series - are rapid scorers, and could provide the much-needed thrust.
Hasan's big hitting, especially if it turns out to be match-winning, could quickly establish him in the side for the rest of the year. But as he very well knows, one or two poor knocks could see him return all the way to the back of the line. After all, such is the whim of Bangladesh's decision-makers.