In the first Test against New Zealand at Chittagong, Sohag Gazi became the first player to record a century and a hat-trick in the same Test match. In what seemed a dull high-scoring affair, Aayush Puthran believes Gazi’s efforts must have given Bangladesh fans enough to cheer and possibly ended their perennial search for a savior.
One of the more positive aspects of Bangladesh cricket over the last decade has been the fact that there has been no dearth of talent, irrespective of how individual careers shaped or what team performances have shown. Promising cricketers have kept coming from the country. However, they seem to be in a perpetual need of a hero, to save their game, and most importantly, to make them believe.
The nation’s cricket fans have hinged their hopes for long on a certain Mohammad Ashraful, one who showed signs of taking on the mighty with his attacking batting and winning those one-off games single-handedly. The fact that fans came out in public to demand symbolic punishment for the 24-year-old after he confessed to his role in match-fixing showed their desperate need to have a hero.
With Sohag Gazi’s brilliance in the first Test against New Zealand, they might just think that they have found one.
It is not the first time that a player has shown the one-odd spectacle of brilliance. But much like Ashraful, the performance was commanding. It is not about a good performance, but about dominance. If it was otherwise, Shakib Al Hasan would have been a godly figure in the country.
Shakib has undoubtedly been the best and the most consistent player in the history of Bangladesh cricket. But somehow his efforts haven’t translated into as many victories for the team. Perhaps, that must have been a failure of the rest of team to give enough support, but he hasn’t dominated a game such that the might of the opposition is shaken.
Gazi’s hat-trick and century in the first Test brings hope and with it ends their perennial search for a savior.
What started with Ashraful, is a role currently donned by Shakib, who is good, very good, in their context, but they need more. Mashrafe Mortaza filled in the void well for a brief period before his emergence, but has been on and off with his performance like most others. Tamim Iqbal has provided glimpses, but not good enough to steal the charm of Ashraful as yet. The likes of Alok Kapali and Habibul Bashar showed promise, but withered away without producing anything substantial.
Thus, how Gazi’s career shapes up from here will be a matter of great interest for people in the country. It wouldn’t matter now that he was the same guy to be whacked out of the ground for a six off the very first ball of a Test match and his career. However, a few poor performances from hereon will be good enough to kill all the romantic ideas, for they have seen enough already, only to be disappointed. But a reversal would do a lot of good to give an impetus to the popularity of the sport in the country, and who knows, to bring in money to the game.
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)