Sabbir has been one of the heroes of Bangladesh’s journey to the Asia Cup 2016 final © Getty Images
Sabbir has been one of the heroes of Bangladesh’s journey to the Asia Cup 2016 final © Getty Images

Bangladesh as a cricket team have evolved from one of the minnows of world cricket to a consistent side in limited overs in the space of just a couple of years. The team has defeated the likes of Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the ongoing Asia Cup 2016, and will face India in the final. The team consists of a number of excellent players such as the experienced Shakib Al Hasan, the inspirational skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, the talented Mustafizur Rahman, and the hard-hitting Mushfiqur Rahim. However, one player who has performed exceedingly well and compelling an elevation in the batting order is Sabbir Rahman. Sabbir has been one of the heroes of Bangladesh’s journey to the Asia Cup 2016 final. Full Cricket Scorecard, India vs Bangladesh, Asia Cup 2016, Final match at Mirpur, Dhaka

Initially grabbing attention for his prowess as a leg-spinner, Sabbir showed his ability to score important runs down the order with a cool mindset. When Bangladesh were bowled out for 193 chasing India’s massive 302 in the quarter-final match of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, Sabbir had scored an attractive 30. The effort was followed by some solid performances, and Bangladesh could see a potent limited-overs top-order batsman in him. READ: India vs Bangladesh, Asia Cup 2016, Final match at Mirpur, Dhaka: Virat Kohli vs Al-Amin Hossain and other key battles

It was during the home series against Zimbabwe that Sabbir climbed three steps up from his usual No. 6 and went out to bat at No. 3. Sabbir’s scores in the three T20I matches read 46 off 36 balls, 43 not out off 30,  and 50 off 32 balls. Bangladesh went into the Asia Cup 2016 with Sabbir as their No. 3 batsman. The move proved another success.

Bangladesh’s first encounter was with India. Rohit Sharma scored a 55-ball 83 and Hardik Pandya scored a quick-fire 31 as India posted 166 in their 20 overs. Bangladesh decided to open with Mohammad Mithun, but both he and fellow opener Soumya Sarkar disappointed. Sabbir came in at the fall of the first wicket, and saw the top-order and middle-order collapse. Bangladesh’s innings came to a halt with 121 for 7 after their 20 overs. Sabbir’s innings stood out, as his 32-ball 44 lent some stability to a floundering innings.

As impressive as that innings was, it was Sabbir’s knock against Sri Lanka that stood out. Once again he came in to bat early after Mithun’s dismissal, and once again Sarkar too was out early. Mushfiqur came in and got out for 4, but Sabbir did not let anything affect him. Sabbir found a partner in Shakib, and the duo enjoyed partnership of  82 runs off 67 balls. Sabbir was finally dismissed off the bowling of Dushmantha Chameera, but his knock of 80 from 54 balls proved to be a match-winning one.

With 144 runs, Sabbir is currently placed at No. 5 among the highest scorers in Asia Cup 2015, ahead of India’s highest scorer, Rohit Sharma, by 7 runs. Sabbir is 51 runs away from taking that top spot. As things stand he could well do so when Bangladesh take on India in the final.

(Paulami Chakraborty, a singer, dancer, artist, and photographer, loves the madness of cricket and writes about the game. She can be followed on Twitter at @Polotwitts)