One of the things that strike you straight away when you watch Sabbir Rahman bat, is just how well organised a presence he has at the crease. Pace or spin, Sabbir has the ability to look very comfortable against it. Then, what has stopped him from becoming one of the best young batting talents around the world? Lack of sound temperament.
Fitness hasn't been in doubt. Sabbir is grown up on basically flat pitches in Bangladesh but he has a good technique to help his case everywhere. What hasn't helped him is the mental stability and the patience you need at the crease. You can have the tightest of techniques but if not backed up by stoic discipline, you aren't going to last long at the crease.
This is the big reason why Sabbir has been dropped from Bangladesh's Test side that is currently in West Indies, after featuring at home against England and Australia and away in South Africa and Sri Lanka over the last few seasons. He has been going through various disciplinary issues on and off the field, as well.
Nevertheless, good news is that Sabbir has made a conscious effort to work over his issues and his just played knock of 165 from 287 balls against Sri Lanka A, is a good proof of it. With Sri Lanka A posting a stiff score of 449 after opting to bat in the first match at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong, and Bangladesh A slipping to 74 for 3 in reply, Sabbir arrived to the crease with a question mark hovering over his ability to script a rescue act. Having had to wait for the storm to pass, Sabbir had to go against his natural instincts, which meant that he could only manage 15 off the first 70 balls that he faced.
Sabbir fought the mental battle of endurance at the start and then played some delightful strokes once he got set. Sabbir is pleased having helped Bangladesh A secure a draw against the visitors, but is also relieved having finally score big in the red ball game.
The youngster talked to Cricbuzz about his brilliant innings and said, "Yes, you can say I missed a double hundred but for me scoring a century in the longer version can be considered as a huge accomplishment in itself, Even I am having a mixed feeling regarding my innings as to whether it was me or someone else who did all these things in the middle"
"I am pleased that I did not lose my head during the initial phase when things were tough and probably it took 64 deliveries for me to score just 14 runs. I made up my mind that I am ready to struggle but I will not lose my wicket trying to do anything silly,"
His disciplinary issues had pulled him out from domestic cricket for the last six months, though it allowed Sabbir to work over his fitness, his technique and more importantly, the mental side of things.
"I focused on individual training during this period. I also made some technical changes (to address the flaws) that was believed to be largely responsible for my lack of consistency during this time. I am quite satisfied that at least I could execute it in the middle,"
Talking specifically about this knock, Sabbir is very happy having executed the plans he had for each fo SL A bowlers, especially left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan.
He said, "I had a plan against Sandakan that if he bowls off-spin I will sweep and if he tries to bowl the googly than I will try to play according to its merit, But I planned all these things after crossing my fifty and until that time my major emphasis remained on trying to keep my composure in the middle. Longer version cricket is all about temperament and application, and for me... I knew I can play my shots if I manage to stay focused."
Chief selector Minhajul Abedin is also satisfied with Sabbir's innings. He said, "He batted really well but what was really satisfying is that he looked determined not to give up unlike in the past when he spilled his opportunities despite doing all the hard work."
Sabbir knows he still has a long way to go. He believes its a start of a new beginning for him.
"I think it is a new beginning for me and I am not willing to waste any opportunity that comes my way after making all these efforts and taking all these troubles."
It is so good to see a youngster care for Test Cricket.