Aftab Ahmed, an unsung hero of Bangladesh cricket
Aftab Ahmed, one of the forerunner of Bangladesh cricket when they started. He played all formats of the game for Bangladesh. He was a right hand batsman and right arm medium bowler. It was August 2014, he announced his retirement from all forms of cricket after 2014/15 domestic season to focus on coaching.
He came to international cricket at 2004. At that time, he played in the Champions Trophy, despite scoring a thirteen-ball duck was persisted with owing to good performances at Under-19 level for Bangladesh. In his third match of his career he took five wickets to become the first Bangladeshi bowler to achieve this milestone in ODI. Through his gentle medium pace he took 5 for 31 against New Zealand in the second of three ODI between the two teams, which has led him to bowl ten overs in most Bangladeshi games later.
His 5-wicket haul earned him a man of the match award in that match against New Zealand. He got early success with bowl in hand. But he still considered as a batsman who can bowl a bit. His first success with the bat came in at one of the historical moments of Bangladesh cricket. It was the 100th ODI match for Bangladesh. Aftab scored his maiden fifty which later proved to vital as Bangladesh narrowly beat India by 14 runs in that match.
That victory was the first win at home for the team. He played an important knock of 81 not out against Zimbabwe. Before it the series at the last game as it hanged 2–2 before the decider. Bangladesh turned back from 2–0 down and won the series. Consequently, Bangladesh become only the second team to win a five match series after losing the first two games.
Bangladesh toured England for the first time in 2005. The whole series was nothing but only disappointment. But Aftab scored his first Test fifty with 82 not out as Bangladesh made 316 in the second innings of the second Test.
He scored 51 in the first ODI against England in the 2005 in the series. He also contributed in the victory over Australia in 2005. He scored 23 from 17 balls. Again in 2005, Bangladesh was 60 run away from winning against Sri Lanka before he came to the crease. He made a 50 runs partnership along with Alok Kapali to snatch the first ever victory against Sri Lanka.
It was 16 September in 2008, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) imposed prohibition over him from playing all forms of cricket for joining unauthorized Indian Cricket League (ICL). Then he left ICL and joined Bangladesh team once more in 2010
In the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 championship, Aftab smashed an unbeaten 62 off 49 balls. He and Mohammad Ashraful made a 109 run stand to beat the West Indies in their first match. In the second match vs South African, he scored with 36 off 14 balls which was the highest score of Bangladesh’s innings.
For the first time he was out of the squad for Asia cup in 2010. Because he scored only 52 runs at an average of 17.33 in three matches against England. He got one more opportunity to play on Bangladeshi side in the World Twenty20 but was dismissed for 1 against Australia. After that he never called for national team.
Though he retired in 2014, but his power hitting batting style has kept his name in the history. At the starting of Bangladesh’s cricket there was not enough big hitter and people used to criticize for it. But Aftab replied through his batting which still keeps him on the record book along with the biggest stars in modern cricket. He is one of the best three batsmen with most strike rate batting at number 3 after Virat Kohli and Joe Root. Virat kohli tops the position with strike rate of 94.34. With a strike rate of 90.56 Joe Root holds the second position and Aftab holds the third position with 89.92.
Aftab Ahmed is one of the forerunner those who brought Bangladesh cricket at a stage. His contribution will never fade up as long as cricket persists.