Fresh from his heroics of scoring a 26-ball 52 which took Bangladesh to an unlikely win over Zimbabwe in their first T20I of the tri-series involving Afghanistan as well, 19-year-old Afif Hossain said that his teammates encouraged him to play his natural game, which went a long way in him being able to play the way he did.
“Nothing much (was said before I went to bat). Everyone just told me to play my natural game,” Afif told reporters after the match. “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.”
Bangladesh were chasing a total of 145 and had 18 overs to do so in a rain-affected match, against a Zimbabwe side that looked like they meant business. Bangladesh were reeling at 60 for 6 when Hossain walked in to bat, and took charge of proceedings along with Mosaddek Hossain at the other end.
He scored a boundary off the very first ball he faced, which released the pressure and put the youngster at ease mentally. “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.”
In his short international career, Afif was out for a duck on his Bangladesh debut against Sri Lanka in February 2018, after which he was dropped. He has now clawed his way back into the team courtesy his performances for the Bangladesh A team and the country’s 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.”