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Bangladesh rejoice as Rubel Hossain turns from 'zero' to 'hero'

Rubel Hossain has turned his and Bangladesh's fortunes around

Rubel Hossain
Rubel Hossain

When Rubel Hossain speared in two perfect yorker length deliveries to take the wickets of Stuart Broad and James Anderson in the 49th over of the English chase at Adelaide, his road to redemption just got a lot less rocky. Rubel was the hero on this historic day for Bangladesh cricket, as England were sent home, licking their wounds. 

Barely two months ago, Rubel was not even sure whether he’d be on the flight Down Under as he was remanded to police custody for allegedly raping and falsely promising marriage to a Bangladeshi actress. That was the last thing Bangladesh needed in the build up to the World Cup, following a tumultuous 12 months, in which they were beaten by Afghanistan in the Asia Cup, Mushfiqur Rahim stepped down from captaincy and Shakib Al Hasan was banned for breaching the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s Code of Conduct.

Prior to today’s game against England, Rubel hadn’t set the tournament alight, with only two wickets at an economy rate of 6.48. But Bangladesh kept their faith in both Rubel and Taskin Ahmed, and the duo delivered when it mattered most, as Taskin got the prized scalp of Jos Buttler and Rubel derailed the English chase as he got rid of Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan in the space of four balls.

Rubel, in particular, has been extensively backed by Bangladesh despite his less than appealing returns, but if ever he had to pick a stage to repay that faith, Rubel chose the perfect one. Far too often, Rubel has gone in search of extra pace and ended up spraying the ball all over the place.

Rubel repaid Mortaza’s faith in him

Today as well, Rubel did go for runs, but he did justify Mashrafe Mortaza’s decision to bowl him, both in the middle overs and at the death, with four crucial wickets that halted the English dream for at least four more years.

It was a professional effort that set the victory up for Bangladesh. Apart from that opening burst from Anderson, Bangladesh always ensured that they gave England plenty to worry about. When England did have a sniff with Bangladesh at 99/4 and Shakib was back in the hut, the men from the Old Blighty would have fancied their chances. But a fantastic counter-attacking 141-run partnership between Mahmudullah Riyad and Rahim put Bangladesh on their way to a strong total.

Again, they might have thought they had let it slip, as their batting in the last few overs was far from convincing. 275 was about par on the Adelaide wicket, but Bangladesh knew they would have to bowl well, and not let Moeen Ali and Ian Bell get off to a quick start.

Although the two English openers managed to get 43 off the first seven overs, a smart piece of fielding from Soumya Sarkar derailed England’s momentum. And then, Mortaza the captain took over. In a refreshing change from the Bangladesh teams of the past, the pressure applied was relentless, and the endeavour was always to take wickets. Far too often, Bangladesh have tried to choke the opposition with their spinners far too early, and their pacers have let the down at the end.

But today was different. There was Bangladesh’s old warrior Mortaza fighting a calf strain along with Rubel and Taskin who looked threatening everytime they ran in. 

Redemption for Rubel and hope for Bangladesh

For Rubel, the two months that he has just had will probably be the most unforgettable of his life thus far, though not always for the right reasons. But he has an opportunity to increase that unforgettable period even further, as Bangladesh will look for a repeat of the 2007 World Cup, in the most likely scenario of them facing India in the quarter-final at the MCG. 

While Rubel’s was a story on its own, perhaps the story from the night that would please Bangladesh the most, is that they had beaten a higher-ranked side, without a notable performance from Shakib.

This can only augur well for the Tigers, as with a hungry Shakib and a rejuvenated Rubel, they will look to wound their more illustrious neighbours and defending champions, should they meet at Melbourne.

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