Can leggie Rishad Hossain survive the harsh realities of Bangladesh cricket?

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Rishad Hossain was impressive in Bangladesh's recently-concluded white-ball tour of New Zealand
Rishad Hossain was impressive in Bangladesh's recently-concluded white-ball tour of New Zealand © AFP

Rishad Hossain hogged the spotlight after putting on an impressive show in the just-concluded white-ball tour of New Zealand that prompted Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusingha to offer praise.

"Another positive (from the white-ball tour of New Zealand) is I think Rishad. We were craving for a leg spinner, to give him the opportunity to play limited overs cricket. He came out with flying colours I think," Hathurusingha told reporters in Mount Maunganui on December 31(Sunday).

The leg spinner certainly showed glimpses of his bowling talent against New Zealand with his ability to tie down batters while also unfurling some of the variations that he added to his repertoire by remodelling his action recently.

"I worked with his bowling action," BCB game development coach Mahbub Ali Zaki told Cricbuzz. "I just told him to turn one or two deliveries. He used to release the ball from the top like Anil Kumble and as he used to release it from the top, the ball does not remain in the shape that is required for leg spin. Instead, it became top spin or googly."

"I just told him that you try two leg spin and four googlies in an over, as his main strength turned out to be his googly. If you can remember Likhon (Jubair) turned out to be a googly master and when he tried to learn leg spin, his googly got affected. I just focused on bringing the right balance to his bowling by helping him to bowl one or two leg spin deliveries along with three or four googlies. To be honest he cannot turn the ball that much," he said.

"If he cannot bowl a bit slow, he cannot he cannot spin the ball. I just tried to keep the non bowling arm locked for a fraction of second and due to that he get some time to organize his bowling because if you want to roll the wrist you need some time. I just asked him try one or two leg spin as that will help him become a better bowler," he added.

It was a drastic change in his bowling style considering the 6-feet 1-inch tall bowler looked to be depended more on his pace variation.

The never ending question in Bangladesh's cricketing landscape is whether there's scope for nurturing a leg spinner. BCB tried different ways to promote leg spinners but that didn't yield the desired results as coaches and different stakeholders involved in the domestic circuit don't have enough faith in them.

During the last five years, Rishad played 19 first class matches along with five list A games that includes two ODIs and 20 T20s (six T20Is included). Rishad only played two matches for Abahani Limited in the last edition of Dhaka Premier League, country's traditional list A tournament.

Rishad was picked up by Comilla Victorians for the upcoming edition of Bangladesh Premier League, country's lone franchise-based T20 tournament. The four-time BPL champions cannot guarantee him a place in the playing XI.

"I have formed a squad where everyone is capable to play but no one's place is confirmed. A player will play according to the balance of the team. I think we have spinner from abroad like Sunil Narine and Noor Ahmed along with Tanveer who performed well last time," Victorians coach Mohammad Salahuddin told Cricbuzz.

"Look we are fighting for championship and whoever performs will play but if you insist that whether we will be inclined to promote any cricketer in that case I cannot say anything because it will be cut throat competition and only the fittest will survive," he added.

Whether Rishad's remodeled bowling action can bear fruits remains to be seen. The wickets in Bangladesh might not quite be an ally.

"I think this is logical (the time when we play domestic cricket we cannot afford leg spinners because the wicket is tired which suit finger spinners more than wrist spinners) and to be honest in Bangladesh it is difficult for a leg spinner who gives flight. If you see history, you will find Shane Warne was not successful here but on the other hand, leg spinners like Rashid Khan and Shahid Afridi were successful as they used to bowl fast and the wicket helps them because they bowl at a good pace," Salahuddin said.

A member of the Bangladesh team management told Cricbuzz on request of anonymity that though Rishad did well in New Zealand he was a better bowler earlier and now it remains to be seen how he fares in the coming days.

"When he (Rishad) came he was a far better bowler than what he is now. We need to groom a player without harming his originality. He is a Kumble type bowler who will bowl fast with very little turn but if we try to make him an orthodox leg spinner which we tried, and as a result his action also got changed.

"He is trying to bowl by giving some flight but that is the problem because it goes against his nature. Let's face it, he is not an orthodox leg spinner and we must allow him to play to his strength," said the member closely working with Bangladesh team while added that he is not sure how he will be treated in the domestic circuit as he feels a leg spinner in this part of the world is playing a game thinking that it is his last game.

Bangladesh renowned coach Nazmul Abedin has a different opnion about Rishad and his domestic cricket expectations.

"I think in domestic cricket if someone (coach) is brave enough to make him play and guide him, that will be beneficial for his team," said the mentor of some leading cricketer in Bangladesh like Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim, among others.



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