Comeback man Afif Hossain revealed that his teammates encouraged him to play his natural, aggressive game that eventually paid off as Bangladesh made a stunning comeback to beat Zimbabwe in the first game of the T20I tri-series in Dhaka on Thursday.
Chasing 145 in a rain-affected 18 overs per side contest, the hosts were reeling at 60/6 before Afif joined Mosaddek Hossain in the crease to revive the chase.The 19-year-old smashed 52 off just 26 deliveries as his side won with two balls to spare in the end. "Nothing much [was said before I went to bat]. Everyone just told me to play my natural game,'' Afif told reporters post the game. "They gave me freedom to play with my own style. My intention was to play my natural game and try to bat according to the situation."
Afif smashed the very first ball he faced straight down the ground for a boundary and that helped him bat confidently, according to his own admission. "Of course that [first boundary] changed the momentum but they tried to attack leaving four fielders outside [the circle], and then when I tried I could just pick the ball so I could hit the first ball."
One of the best shots of the innings came in the 16th over when Afif played a ramp to perfection against Kyle Jarvis to stamp his authority over Zimbabwe, but the left-hander admitted that it could have gone either way. "After seeing the set up, I thought they could bowl in that area so there was 50-50 chance. So I took that chance and he bowled it there, then it turned out to be a four," he noted.
Having made his debut last year in February where he registered a duck and was subsequently dropped, Afif forged his comeback through strong shows for the Bangladesh A team and the High Performance Unit.
"I did not care that I was dropped and I was only eyeing to perform at my best wherever I play so that I can come back,'' said Afif. "The real debut was one year before. In the second match I tried to contribute so that I can hold my place in the team. I am really satisfied with my performance because I played a match winning innings but had I remained not out, I would have felt better,'' he concluded.