Saturday, February 23, 2019 | ePaper
Kayes cashes in on surprise opportunity
Until three days ago, Imrul Kayes wasn't following much of Bangladesh's Asia Cup campaign apart from checking the scorecard on his cell phone. But in a quick turn of events, after a surprise call-up, he turned out to be Bangladesh's knight in shining armour. With little time to rest after being selected in the playing XI for the game against Afghanistan, and being asked to bat at a position that he isn't comfortable with, the left-hander rose up to the challenge as he came to his team's rescue and played a crucial role in keeping Bangladesh's hopes alive in the tournament.
Kayes and Sarkar were participating in a four-day game in Khulna, played between Bangladesh Red and Bangladesh Green, when they were asked to join the national team. With an unfortunate injury to Tamim Iqbal, and Liton Das, and Nazmul Hossain struggling to provide good starts, a call was taken to bring in reinforcements in the form of Imrul and Sarkar, which baffled skipper Mashrafe Mortaza. While the top order was a concern for Bangladesh, the team management had other ideas as far as Kayes's batting position was concerned, asking him to bat at the No. 6.
In the past, Kayes had shown an unwillingness to bat down the order, even at No. 3, suggesting that opening the batting comes easily to him and that he doesn't enjoy waiting for his turn with his pads on. However, an opportunity to play an ODI after a gap of close to a year was one that Kayes wasn't going to let go, even if it meant that he had to make adjustments batting at an unfamiliar position.
Opting to bat, Bangladesh suffered yet another top-order capitulation and were reeling at 87 for 5 when Kayes walked out to bat. Having been a better player of pace than spin in the past, and going up against a top-class Afghanistan spin line up, Kayes was out of his comfort zone. But he was up for the challenge, partnering Mahmudullah in a 128-run sixth wicket stand that helped Bangladesh post a competitive total of 249.