Sports, Cricket

Saifuddin’s return crucial for Tigers

Published : 30 Apr 2024 09:23 PM

Bangladesh all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin has made a comeback before, overcoming injuries. This time, however, his return was eagerly awaited after a lengthy hiatus. As the Zimbabwe series commences on May 3, he is set to rejoin the national squad after 18 months, marking not just a return to the national side but also to cricket itself after a considerable break. 

This return could signify a new chapter for Saifuddin. Bangladesh cricket has long awaited a pace bowling all-rounder of his caliber. His presence can significantly bolster any team's lineup, extending the batting order's depth and strength. His reliable bowling in the opening and closing overs could become a captain's asset. In the 20-over format, a fit Saifuddin is indeed a valuable player for any team.

Repeated injuries had sidelined Saifuddin from the sport. His longstanding acquaintance with injuries is well-known, with recurring back pain that intermittently flares up. The 27-year-old pace bowler and all-rounder has been playing through this pain. Post-October 2022, his chronic back pain intensified, coinciding with a dip in form. His exclusion from the national team was somewhat anticipated. Consequently, he missed out on the BPL that season. Despite his willingness to play as a 'batsman,' no team took him on.

Saifuddin battled his injuries to play as an all-rounder in the recent Premier League. Seeking a lasting remedy for his back injury, he was treated at Qatar's renowned Aspetar Sports Medicine Hospital. Following a three-month rehabilitation, he was medically cleared to play. In October, the BCB's medical team approved him to bat in the National Cricket League. Yet, no team selected him as a batsman then either.

Saifuddin eventually made his return in the last BPL, joining Fortune Barishal mid-tournament. His remarkable performance with both bat and ball was pivotal in Barishal's BPL victory. His claim for a national team spot was bolstered by taking 15 wickets in 9 BPL matches before the Sri Lanka series in March. The selectors, however, opted to observe his resilience under continuous cricketing strain a bit longer. After resting him in the Premier League, where he claimed 13 wickets across 10 matches, the selectors were convinced of his fitness and included him for the first three T20 matches against Zimbabwe.

Yet, each of Saifuddin's returns carries a mix of relief and apprehension. The concern lingers whether he can sustain the rigors of continuous play and not disrupt plans by succumbing to injury at a critical juncture. The BCB's medical department imposed stringent conditions for Saifuddin's return to play. He was not permitted to bowl until fully recovered, which explains why Barishal lacked his services at the start of the BPL.