Shahriar Nafees is easy to spot among his team mates. He’s the one with the mane like the one India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni used to sport. The Bangladesh squad trooped out into the poolside of the team hotel for a gym and swimming session and Nafees was easy to spot. It’s just that his wife likes the style, he says with a timid smile.
The left-handed opening batsman is just 23, but married and a father, he has seen much of life even outside a cricket career of ups and downs.
Tipped as a potential Test captain since his Test debut at 19, Nafees has been in and out of form in the four years he was a regular in the Bangladesh team. But dejection and reportedly a feeling of neglect in the team had allured him to join the ‘rebel’ Indian Cricket League in 2008.
With the ICL going down and age on his side Nafees decided to return to mainstream cricket knowing fully well that getting back would be very difficult. For the moment, being part of the 15-member squad for the tri-series, after serving a six-month cool-off period, is a job only half done.
Only the selectors’ confidence has been restored. For the team think tank to get confidence back in him could take some time. His decision to portray a sense of disappointment with playing for Bangladesh before joining the ICL certainly hasn’t helped.
“T20 has completely changed the way one-day cricket is played these days. Totals of 300 plus are not considered mammoth anymore, at least in the subcontinent. I have learnt much by playing against some big names in the world at the ICL and I am looking forward to being part of the Indian Premier League,” Nafees, who along with Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan are the two from the country who are registered for the IPL auctions on January 19, told HT.
“A good show against India would definitely be on top of my mind if I am picked because that would be a good platform for a player to get noticed before the auctions. But the national team comes first. A good performance will be fruitful only if the team wins,” Nafees added.
The IPL, he feels, has generated immense interest in Bangladesh. “The amount of money Mortaza bhai fetched was amazing. Then Shakib bhai was named the Wisden cricketer of the year. It just shows that Bangladesh cricketers are improving individually. We now have to do well together.”