Focused Shuvagata returns in new avatar

‘I am a strokeplayer so I think that’s why they picked me in T20s. I enjoy this format’ – Shuvagata Hom © Bangladesh Cricket Board

Shuvagata Hom, the Bangladesh allrounder, has found his way back into the Bangladesh team for the first time in six months.

But questions of his faltering Test career do not go away. At the first mention of it, he broke into a wide smile. It wasn’t a happy one though; more like one that comes when reminded of a painful memory. He played seven Tests as an offspinner from September 2014 to June 2015, but there were periods when he did not even get to bowl. Also, his batting position was too low to have an impact on the game.

Chief selector Faruque Ahmed had been among those concerned about Shuvagata’s place in the Bangladesh side during the Test series against Pakistan in April 2015. Shuvagata was dropped thereafter, but has not gone down without a fight. He made three fifties on Bangladesh A’s tour of India and a 92 against Zimbabwe A. A strong BPL 2015 has also helped – he made only 94 runs in nine innings, but his brisk cameos were just what champions Comilla Victorians needed in the middle and end overs.

Those performances have brought him a place in the Bangladesh T20 side to face Zimbabwe later this month to play a role more suited to him, that of a lower-order big-hitter.

“I played in the Test team as a bowling allrounder but I think of myself as a batting allrounder,” Shuvagata said. “I got opportunities to bat for the Bangladesh A team after getting dropped from the national team. By doing well in that team, I got back my confidence. I felt that I could make a comeback by making use of those batting opportunities for Bangladesh A. This is an opportunity to get myself a place in the side for the Asia Cup and World T20.”

Bangladesh have been searching for batsmen who can play strokes from the get-go with the World T20 coming up, and it has led them to Shuvagata, whose strike rate of 142.42 was the second best in the BPL among batsmen who played at least nine innings. “I am a strokeplayer so I think that’s why they picked me in T20s. I enjoy this format because it fits my style of batting. I hope I do well in this series whenever I get a chance.

“In the BPL there were times when I got some time to think out in the middle. But I also tried to play shots instantly in the last few overs,” he said.

In September 2014, Shuvagata was thought to be a like-for-like replacement for the specialist offspinner Sohag Gazi. He continued to play that role until his relegation from the national outfit. Now he comes back as a batsman down the order who can hit out from ball one. Will his reinvention be successful? The four T20s against Zimbabwe that start on January 15 will be a good chance to find out.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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