Just the day before Tigers’ match against India, Mohammad Saifuddin missed the team bus which left the hotel for their last training session ahead of the big game as he arrived late to join his teammates who were heading for the practice session.
Saifuddin went to the practice session after a while but not without being handed monetary punishment for breaking the team rules of not making himself available in due time but when it mattered he did not seem only to arrive but looked like shouldering the hopes of the entire nation.While he failed to accompany his team mates on the bus, similarly he was alone as they failed to give him the required support that was needed in the end as he was fighting a lone battle against India.
Indian cricketers felt as if they were cruising to victory comfortably after they had removed in-form Shakib Al Hasan and reduced their opponents to 179 runs for 6 wickets before Sabbir Rahman and Saifuddin counterattacked in style to put Indian bowlers into disarray to some extent.
While Sabbir (36) was more experienced of the duo, it was actually Saifuddin who took India off guard, before Bumrah came to their rescue as he bowled the former with a superb delivery.
Saifuddin never looked short of confidence against one of the best bowling units of the world and what was even more heartening was to see him playing some genuine cricketing shots coming at number eight that eventually helped him earn his second ODI fifty.
Saifuddin, who scored unbeaten 38-ball 51 runs, with his maiden World Cup fifty kept Bangladeshi fans interested until Bumrah unleashed to perfect yorker to rattle the stump of Rubel Hossain (9) and Mustafizur Rahman (0) in consecutive deliveries that which saw him leaving the business unfinished.
“I always looked forward to this type of opportunity where I can finish the game off for my team. And by the grace of almighty, I was connecting well today. I was confident that I will be able to pull this off but unfortunately it didn’t happen,” said Saifuddin after the match.“May be I couldn’t guide my team to victory in any match in the international level but I did it against South Africa at Chattogram in under-19 level cricket. So, I was recalling that day again and again while batting today (Tuesday), I hoped I can replicate that performance. I was telling myself that I will do my best. But unfortunately it didn’t could not pull it off today,” he said.
“May be, in the international level I couldn’t prove myself with the bat. But in Under-19 level and in domestic circuit, I have handled this type of situation. I tried to remember those experiences and tried to recall those skills,” told Saifuddin.
“Actually, it’s nothing but a bad day,” he said.
The young all-rounder’s journey in the World Cup was never smooth as he had to battle with his back injury which forced the team management to provide him pain killer injections during the ongoing tournament.
But midway into the tournament, he became the talking point of Bangladesh just ahead of the game against Australia when a leading Bengali daily carried out reports that he over played his injury to avoid the game against Australia citing it as big-match phobia.
According to the reports, some senior members of the team were clearly unhappy when he told that he couldn’t play due to back pain which he sustained during their previous game against West Indies, as he neither called the physio after the match and also bowled seven overs after sustaining the injury whereas as in regular circumstances he should have left the field for immediate medication.
Saifuddin cleared the air stating that he was motivated to prove his point and that too against a big team.
“It hurts. Few days ago, there was a rumor about me that I don’t want to play against the big teams because of fear and which made me give excuses,” said Saifuddin.
“This controversy made me determined to prove my point, I wanted to win the match on my own against a big team and wanted to be the hero. This thought came into my mind from the first ball to last ball which I faced against India, I wanted to win the match. So that, I can prove that these rumours were wrong. That’s why I tried my best since first to last ball. But unfortunately it didn’t pan out the way I hoped,” he said.
“We players can only perform and the rest is not in our control. We can only answer the criticisms hurled onto us in the field. Other than this, we don’t have any platform to answer the critics. So, we try to give apt reply to the critics by our performance on the field,” he added.
“I, very badly, wanted to win this match for my team. It was like a ‘sky breaking down on me’ type of feeling. It’s natural to feel bad in this type of situation because we are out of the World Cup,” he said.
“Before today’s match we thought we could make it to the semifinal if we win these two matches. It’s very natural to feel sad in these situations, if any other player was in my position, he would have felt sad too,” he concluded.