Accurate left-arm spin bowling, gun-fielding and clearing the ropes with hefty hits, Bengal all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed wants to be a ‘Ravindra Jadeja proto-type’ for Bengal and for Royal Challengers Bangalore where skipper Virat Kohli might take interest in his skill-sets. Also Read - IND vs ENG: Motera Pitch Likely to Escape ICC Ban as 4th Test Strip Promises to be Batting Beauty
With a match-haul of six wickets and 49 runs in Bengal’s big win against Hyderabad, Shahbaz is now ready to shed the ‘outsider tag’ having come from Haryana. “I really love the way Ravindra Jadeja plays for India. I just like to play like him in Bengal,” Ahmed, who will share the dressing room with Indian captain Virat Kohli at Royal Challengers Bangalore in the upcoming IPL-2020, was quoted by PTI. Also Read - Irfan Pathan Writes Heart-Warming Letter For Recently-Retired Brother Yusuf Pathan, Calls Him Champion Player And Source of Inspiration For Many
Shahbaz was sold to RCB at his base price of Rs 20 lakh in the IPL auction as he is only the second player from Bengal, after pacer Ishan Porel, to feature in the 2020’s edition. Also Read - Cricket: Chris Gayle Returns to West Indies T20I Squad After Nearly Two Years For Series Against Sri Lanka
“I’m really excited to share the dressing room with Virat Kohli. This is a lifetime opportunity for me. If I get an opportunity to play in the IPL, I would just like to replicate the same there — contribute with bat and ball. It would help a lot in my career. But at the moment I’m focusing only on Ranji matches.”
Batting at Number eight, Shahbaz slammed missed his second half-century from seven matches by just one run after a suicidal runout, but he stood in a century-plus partnership with Tiwary.
Only two seasons ago, the Haryana-born Shahbaz, who had come to Kolkata in pursue of cricket, was termed an outsider and was suspended for a match for Tapan Memorial, till Cricket Association of Bengal conducted an investigation.
He went on to make his debut in 2018-19, against Hyderabad in an away match which was his solitary outing last season.
This season he played five matches for Bengal and contributed with a 50 in their win against Kerala.
“This is my second season. I’ve been playing here for last five years. I stay here, it’s my home now. I was a bit disturbed but thankfully the matter was quickly resolved.
“It’s all past now. I’ve got the full support of my team and coaches. I’m thankful to VVS Laxman and Arun Lal Sirs for backing me,” he said dedicating his hattrick as he returned with 4/26 with match haul of six wickets.
First, he cleaned up Hyderabad’s top-scorer Jaweed Ali (72) before wrapping up Hyderabad first innings dismissing Ravi Kiran, Kolla Sumanth en route to claim Bengal’s first hattrick since Mohammed Shami took against Madhya Pradesh in 2012-13.
“I never planned for the hattrick. I just wanted to bowl in the right areas and repeat the same ball. I was lucky to get the hattrick. It came after a long time for Bengal,” Shahbaz said.
On his journey, the Mewat-born lad said: “I never played serious cricket in Haryana but only few matches in Gurgaon. But only after coming to Bengal, I got chance to play for BCCI. My coach, there was Mansoor Ali.”
Shahbaz said he loves batting but now after playing longer versions his bowling has improved.