In this series, we take a closer look at the under-19 World Cup winners and see how they could fare in international cricket
What Bangladesh achieved in the 2020 Under-19 World Cup is inarguably the greatest achievement in the history of Bangladesh cricket. The youngsters performed phenomenally in South Africa and played as a team. Bangladesh won the tournament because of a collective effort but there were definitely some glimpses of individual brilliance. One of the cricketers who impressed in that tournament was Shahadat Hossain.
Dipu, as he is nicknamed, hails from Chattogram. Unlike a lot of his fellow cricketers, he is not a BKSP graduate. The most interesting part is, he was rejected by BKSP. Shahadat did not lose heart and kept on trying. He was picked in the Under-19 side straight from the Under-17 team. The right-handed batsman batted brilliantly in the World Cup, especially against South Africa scoring an unbeaten 76.
Shahadat did some fitness drills at home during the shutdown but understands the significance of playing an actual match. "It's really disappointing for us cricketers who always love to play to be away from cricket for so long. I've worked a bit on my fitness during the lockdown. That's all I could actually do. There is nothing like playing an actual match of cricket," said Shahadat.
The 18-year old thought of a career in cricket after attending a couple of BKSP camps in Chattogram and Dhaka. He stated, "I used to casually practice with the cricket ball after school when I was 10-11. Someone made me aware of a trial at Chattogram BKSP. Before that, I had absolutely no idea about what BKSP is like. I went there almost aimlessly. I borrowed kits from someone else. That one-month camp there and a two-month camp at Dhaka BKSP actually made me fall in love with cricket."
"When I was selected in the BKSP camp, someone from there called my mother and told her that I had to move there. She, at first, thought that I did something very wrong. Then my brother made her understand what BKSP is like," he added.
His father passed away when he was only eight years old and Shahadat credits his elder brother for what he is today. "We are five siblings and I am the youngest of them all. My father died in 2010. Since then, we had to struggle and at that period my elder brother looked after us," he mentioned.
After all these, he was rejected by BKSP. But he kept on pushing himself so that he could play cricket in the highest level: "When I was rejected at the BKSP, I was disappointed. But a person who's like a big brother to me suggested that I should get myself admitted into an academy in Chattogram. He mentioned that from there I could also go on to play at district levels, age levels even for the national team. I came to understand that I had to grab that opportunity."
Shahadat, after playing under-16 cricket for the district side, was called up to the under-17 national team. He scored two consecutive fifties against Afghanistan for the U-17 team. "When I scored the first fifty, I was told that if I scored a fifty in the next game too, then I would be selected in the squad for U-19 challenge series. I did so. After that I scored a hundred in that series and made my way to the U-19 team," Shahadat recalled.
He is one of the players who have been part of the U-19 team for two years. "I was called up to the squad for the 2018 U-19 Asia Cup. I did not perform as well as I would have liked and was dropped from the squad for our tour of Sri Lanka. I, after that, went back to first-division cricket. Fortunately, I performed well there and made my way back to the squad for a home series against England. I got an opportunity in the final youth ODI match. I scored an unbeaten fifty and since then I have been a regular member of the side," he explained.
Shahadat Hossain was unbeaten in three consecutive matches in the World Cup against Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand. He played a superb knock of unbeaten 76 against South Africa. However, he has a slight regret for not contributing enough with the bat in the all-important final. "My best performance in the World Cup is definitely that unbeaten knock against South Africa. I was again unbeaten against New Zealand. At that time, the performance of the team was more important to me than individual achievements. The only thing I regret about is the final match where I couldn't contribute with the bat. If I could score a few runs, we wouldn't have to find it difficult to win," he remarked.
A star for Bangladesh in the Under-19 World Cup for Bangladesh, Shahadat Hossain Dipu has the desire to get selected in the A team quickly and then play the 2023 World Cup for the national team: "I had a plan to represent the A team in a year's time. That was before the Covid-19 happened. But things have changed drastically. But I am prepared to make an impression wherever I get an opportunity in domestic cricket. I would love to be called up to the national team in 2022, before the 2023 World Cup," the youngster signed off.