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Thursday, December 09, 2021

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Two newbies, two stories

Samiur Rahman . Chattogram
25 Nov 2021 00:00:00 | Update: 25 Nov 2021 02:13:03
Two newbies, two stories
Bangladesh players Rejaur Rahman (Left) and Mahmudul Hasan pose for a photo during Bangladesh’s training session at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram on Wednesday – Courtesy Photo

Mahmudul Hasan and Rejaur Rahman, the two newcomers in the Bangladesh Test squad, are getting a chance to rub shoulders with seasoned players at the highest level.

Mahmudul, a right-hand batsman who was part of the Under-19 team that won the World Cup in 2020, played for Chittagong Division in the National Cricket League and scored back-to-back hundreds in his last two matches.

Though Bangladesh’s packed batting order at the top is giving Mahmudul very little hope for a debut in Chattogram, Shakib Al Hasan’s unavailability might just pave the way for him.

The youngster just celebrated his 21st birthday a fortnight ago, and he is beaming confident as he scored two centuries in his last two first-class matches.

“I have played some good knocks in the NCL. I am now very confident. Earlier, I had also played a couple of good innings for the High-Performance team and A team. I am ready to take the challenges of the upcoming days,” Mahmudul told the media in a video message.

Mahmudul hails from Chandpur, a district of Chattogram Division, and he represented his home side in the NCL, where he has played only six matches so far, but that was enough for him to get a call-up to the national side.

But he is not feeling anything special.

“There is nothing special about Chattogram. Senior brothers are here (Mominul Haque, Test captain; Nayeem Hassan). Everyone is very helpful. We played the last couple of matches together,” said Mahmudul.

The youngster is dreaming of wearing the Test cap and wishes to carry forward what he has been doing.

“It’s a great feeling, can’t express it in words. Everyone dreams about playing Test matches for the country. I got called up for the first time, and I am very happy. I have no special plans. If I get the chance, I will play my usual game,” Mahmudul said on Wednesday.

Rejaur was lucky to get drafted in the Test squad as he only came in because Taskin Ahmed injured his bowling hand while playing the third Twenty20 international against Pakistan and needed stitches.

Rejaur was part of the training camp in Chattogram, and he was called up to avoid further complexity due to the managed event environment protocol during this pandemic time.

Sylhet Division has been the key producer of seamers in the national team in the last five years, and Rejaur is the next in line after Abu Jayed, Ebadot Hossain, and Khaled Ahmed.

Among the last five pacers who made their Test debut for Bangladesh, three are from Sylhet. And Rejaur, who picked up 12 wickets in his last three first-class matches, is dreaming to follow the footsteps of his seniors.

“My seniors inspire me. Rahi bhai (Abu Jayeed), Ebadot (Hossain) bhai, Khaled (Ahmed) bhai motivated me to be a pace bowler. I love to take challenges,” he told the media.

Rejaur started to play cricket with the taped tennis balls, and after doing well in a local tournament, he was spotted by the local coaches.

“There was a taped tennis ball tournament in our locality. I played there, and after seeing me bowl, some local senior cricketers told me that I did good and I should join them in training with a cricket ball in the stadium. I joined them and felt that I could do well with the cricket ball too,” said the 22-year-old right-arm pacer.

Forhad Qureshi, team manager of the Sylhet Divisional cricket team and an official of the Divisional cricket association, has watched Rejaur up close and believes that the pacer can be a good prospect.

“Rejaur played local cricket in Sylhet before joining City Club in Dhaka, where he trained under Mizanur Rahman, the current national team fielding coach. In the previous season of NCL, where Syleht got promoted from Tier-2 to Tier -1, Rejaur bowled very well and played a key part,” he told The Business Post.

Rejaur picked eight wickets against Khulna Division last month in the NCL, and also performed well in his next two matches but it was the unavailability of Taskin and Shoriful Islam that made way for him at the last moment.

Mahmudul and Rejaur both came to this mingling point through totally opposite routes.

Mahmudul was raised through the traditional cricket structure where he attended a local cricket academy, then Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protisthan, and then was nurtured through age-level competitions.

But Rejaur has walked in the opposite route. He was spotted by some local cricket enthusiasts in a taped tennis ball tournament, and from there on, he moved up to the divisional first-class team, and eventually, earned a call in the Test squad.

Fate brought them together this far, and now both are eagerly waiting for a dream come true moment which could change their lives.