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Kayes: Bangla's new poster boy

Imrul Kayes wanted to play football. His father, Baniamin Biswas, was a cricket buff. Their small house in Meherpur in Kushtia district did not have a television, but Baniamin would never miss a cricket match on the radio. Nilankur Das writes.

india Updated: Mar 13, 2011 00:49 IST
Nilankur Das

Imrul Kayes wanted to play football. His father, Baniamin Biswas, was a cricket buff. Their small house in Meherpur in Kushtia district did not have a television, but Baniamin would never miss a cricket match on the radio.

Finally, the father prevailed and Imrul was given his first bat. But including his son in the team was a 'costly proposition'. Imrul would most certainly hit the ball out of sight.

The road from gully cricket to the national team has been long. And even now, with the likes of his opening partner, Tamim Iqbal, and captain, Shakib-Al Hasan, the chances of hogging the limelight for players like Imrul have been few and far between.

On Friday, Imrul and his equally introvert team-mate, Shafiul Islam, emerged heroes of Bangladesh's memorable win over England. And, just like the post-match media conference after the victory over Ireland, Imrul repeated what Tamim - the 'Man-of-the-match' against Ireland - had said: "I think Shafiul deserved this award more than I did".

"This is my first Man-of-the-match award," Imrul muttered towards the fag end of the session. Skipper Shakib patted his shoulder the moment Imrul spoke his first words, even as the gathering - that also included the ICC media head, Colin Gibson, who did not quite get the language but the drift - broke into laughter. Imrul had scored 76 against England in Bristol when Bangladesh last beat them. But a 60 in difficult conditions and on the biggest stage will definitely be his most memorable innings, even better than his century against New Zealand last year. "The Bristol win was a turning point, and I started believing in myself that I could do such a thing again," Imrul said.