Sabbir banishes off-field demons in bittersweet comeback
Sabbir Rahman scored his maiden international century. (AFP Image)

When Sabbir Rahman burst on to the scene for Bangladesh back in 2014, he straightaway became the toast of the nation due to his phenomenal all-round skills. Coming down the order, he could hit them big, and with the ball, break partnerships. The next four years, at times Sabbir did well, and on other occasions, didn’t.

But the fact that he was fast turning out to be one of Bangladesh’s match-winners did not go unnoticed – to an extent that he was tipped to be the next big star of Bangladesh cricketer, joining the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim.

But a bad conduct off the field had cast doubts over Sabbir’s future. He was banned due to disciplinary issues for his conduct off the field. He had been penalised for beating up a fan during the 2017 Bangladesh Premier League and more recently, slapped with a six-month long ban in September last year for abusing another fan on social media.

Five months away in the wilderness, Sabbir’s ban was reduced by a month by the Bangladesh Cricket Board. Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh captain, chose Sabbir for the ODIs against New Zealand, and the allrounder did not disappoint his skipper. Playing the third ODI, Sabbir struck a handsome century – his first in international cricket, and even though his knock could not prevent Bangladesh from being swept 0-3, the allrounder took a huge step in an equally crucial comeback to the national team.

“Naturally I am happy to make my maiden ODI hundred, and more so due to the fact that it helped to repay the faith that all my team-mates and the officials had in me,” Sabbir told Cricbuzz.

Coming in at 40/4 during Bangladesh’s chase of 331, Sabbir hit 12 fours and two sixes en route to a score of 102 before being out caught and bowled Tim Southee. Sabbir expressed his gratitude towards Mortaza for the faith the Bangladesh skipper showed in him to reduce his ban and get him back in the international fold.

“I am thankful to Mashrafe bhai and to every single individual who had supported me through thick and thin. Their moral support was extremely helpful during the past,” he said. “I dedicate my century to my father and mother as they were beside me all through when I was passing through some torrid time due to all the things that had happened during the last couple of months.”

Bangladesh ended up falling 88 runs short of the target, but Sabbir’s knock might just have opened the doors for a return to Tests as well.