A tournament final provides opportunities for the lesser known players to make a name for themselves and at the same time, grasp the nuances of performing on the big stage.
The BCB Cup final on Wednesday was an ideal setting for those on the periphery but while most let it slip by, some grabbed it with both hands — though one of those remained mostly unnoticed.
Obviously there isn’t any doubt on Mahmudullah Riyad winning the best player’s award in the final. The newly-appointed Tigers’ vice-captain not only bowled a tight spell and played the match-winning knock, the superb catch he took running back from mid-on to dismiss Mushfiqur Rahim was more than enough to win him the man-of-the-match award. Alok Kapali threatened him till the death as the Sylhet batsman had an inspired day with both bat and ball.
It was quite justified that Kapali gave a good account of himself after he was ignored from the Zimbabwe tour on the back of a single game against Australia.
Riyad was the better of the two throughout the tournament, topping the run-getter’s chart while also picking up seven wickets while Kapali, one dare say, got limited opportunity except in the last game.
Riyad wasn’t the only one to score more than 150 runs as Tamim Iqbal showed that despite all the controversy, his batting form had remained intact. Mushfiqur Rahim continued to thrive on his bright patch while Naeem Islam struck the only century of the tournament. Mohammad Ashraful possibly played the most pleasurable knock but as usual, in what was his only innings of note.
Among the bowlers, Rubel Hossain stood out with nine wickets and his effort in the final is worth mentioning simply because he was defending a paltry total and gave it his all in three excellent spells.
While the recognised faces did what was expected of them, others like Shuvogoto Hom Chowdhury, Shamsur Rahman, Jahurul Islam and Syed Rasel could have used the tournament like a trampoline for the rest of the season but they hardly put a foot right.
Instead, it was Elias Sunny who continued to impress anyone who was interested to notice.
With his left-arm spin, Sunny has proved to be more than just a promising performer as in two consecutive domestic finals in the space of less than a year, he has delivered. Last year, it was Sunny who blasted the match-winning 87 to propel Dhaka to the National Cricket League one-day competition when all seemed lost against Barisal in the final. This time too, Sunny had a say in the final. In his eight-over spell, he tied up the Tigers with his accurate left-arm spin, conceding only 13 runs as he picked up two wickets.
His performance was easily overshadowed by the half-centuries, brilliant catches and his own batting failure but take away his spell and Bangladesh A would have been chasing a 200-plus total. Sunny also topped the bowling economy chart (2.93 per over) and he’s second in the wicket-taker’s list with seven wickets.
The selection panel’s reticence about Sunny and disapproval of Rubel (“I am not happy with the bowling performances” — Akram) is slightly surprising. Maybe more is expected from Rubel and he was stereotyped with Shafiul Islam and Nazmul Hossain (who took just six wickets between them).
Sunny’s effort should be appreciated more vocally as it is more than clear that Shakib Al Hasan lacks a good spin partner in Test cricket while Abdur Razzak has also seen better days in ODIs. If someone like Akram Khan encourages Sunny, it would inspire the rest of the spinners who are vying for a spot in the national side.
Since the selectors have admitted that their net has widened, appreciating some of the lesser known players would go a long way into finding even more talented gems outside their net.
-With The Daily Star input