Tigers play Uganda today

Monday, September 3, 2007

When Bangladesh play their last game of the Quadrangular Twenty20 tournament against Uganda at the Gymkhana Club ground in Nairobi today, one batsman in the Tigers' rank will unwittingly walk in the middle to solve a riddle -- being consistent.

There were only a handful of instances when a Bangladeshi batsman performed consistently in an international meet. But young opening batsman Nazimuddin, who initially was not considered in the core group, suddenly comes to the fore.

The 22-year-old, who struck a match-winning 43 against Kenya and then flayed the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif for a scintillating 81 off 50 against Pakistan, now has a chance to finish the meet with flying colours provided he continues his rich vein of form against the lightweight Africans.

Included in the playing eleven in place of injured Shakib Al Hasan at the last moment, the right-hander so far grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Although it is too early to say whether he would be able to solve the opening headache in the abridged version of the game, the way he paced his innings in the last two games gave the selectors ample food for thought.

Nazimuddin himself was quite confident to make a grade while recalling the contribution of former Bangladesh Under-19 coach Richard McInness behind his success.

“I was in the Bangladesh Under 19 team's pre-World Cup 2004 camp at the BKSP and it was like staying in hell. There was so much physical hardship for six months and I was close to breaking point,” recalls Nazim, in an interview with TigerCricket.com, who is one of the four players in the present national side from that class of 2004 under hard taskmasters McInness and fitness trainer Justin Cordy.

“One day we were taken for an ice-bath at 7 in the morning. It was winter and I had never experienced anything like standing inside a drum with ice up to the neck. I thought why don't they kill me instead,” Nazim says with a boyish smile.

“After the ice-bath there was another 40-minute ordeal at the swimming pool. When I got back to the dorm I called my mother on the phone and just asked her 'yu want to see your son alive or you want a cricket player?' and she could hear me weeping. She paused for a few seconds and then said in a steely voice, 'a son who is a cricket player'. I was so upset I did not call home for the next four weeks. Looking back, I guess if she had played the typical mom and told me to come back home then I would never have gone on to play international cricket,” the soft-spoken cricketer explained.

He admitted that the Australian coach changed his cricket philosophy.

There is no doubt Nazimuddin is set to perform in a bigger stage when Bangladesh head for ICC Twenty20 World Championship.

Mohammad Ashraful's men will leave the Kenyan capital on Thursday for Johannesburg to take part in the first-ever T20 World Championship where they have been pitted in Group A along with hosts South Africa and West Indies.

Bangladesh recorded a five-wicket victory over Kenya in the first game before going down fighting against a formidable Pakistan in the second game by 30 runs. Uganda on the other hand pulled off a stunning two-wicket victory against the hosts after a humiliating defeat against Pakistan.

Bangladesh have made one change for today's game, bringing in Nadif Chowdhury for Mahmudullah Riyad.