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Fahima-Rumana duo demonstrates importance of leg-spin

| Updated: March 16, 2022 21:57:13

Fahima Khatun (L) and Rumana Ahmed (C) celebrate the wicket of Pakistan's Nida Dar. Photo: AFP Fahima Khatun (L) and Rumana Ahmed (C) celebrate the wicket of Pakistan's Nida Dar. Photo: AFP

The leg-spinning duo of Rumana Ahmed and Fahima Khatun ran through the Pakistan middle- and lower-middle order as Tigresses created history by defeating Pakistan to taste their first World Cup triumph.

Although many stories will be cemented forever in the history books of Bangladesh cricket following this victory, the fact that two leg spinners orchestrated a win out of an impossible situation is perhaps the most significant one among them.

Pakistan were cruising to victory as opener Sidra Ammen played an innings of 104 runs, posted 91 runs in the opening stand with Nahida Khan and 64 runs in the second wicket with captain Bismah Maroof.

But Fathima had other plans as she played a key role in making Pakistan collapse from 183/2 to 188/7.

Pakistan lost 5 wickets for only five runs within just 13 balls giving Bangladesh the upper hand at the business end of the innings.

She dismissed Omaima Sohail in the last ball of the 42nd over giving Bangladesh a much-needed breakthrough while Pakistan was on 183/3. 

Rumana followed that up in the next over sending back experienced Nida Dar for a duck.

Fahima got Fatima Sana and Aliya Riaz in successive deliveries in the 44th over. Sidra was run out in the last ball of the same over leaving her team struggling at 188 for 7 after 44 overs.

Fahima claimed 3 wickets for 38 runs and was adjudged player of the match.

“I just bowled in the right areas and the success came. It was a sporting wicket. I'm really excited and happy that I could perform for my team," Fahima stated in the post-match interview.

Bangladesh captain Nigar Sultana Joty also praised the leg spinner, "I have seen two matches over here, where the spinners dominate here, I thought if she [Fahima] could deliver her best, I could use her very well.”

Although quite obvious, Fahima and Rumana reinforced the importance of leg-spinners at global events, where pitches are mostly sporting unlike the rank turners of Mirpur.

In the recently concluded T-20 World Cup, Bangladesh were the only side without a legspinner in the squad.

Featuring leg-spinners regularly at domestic and international competitions was one of the promises by the concerned individuals after the World Cup debacle.

But like many other empty promises, this too couldn’t be materialised into action. In the initial draft of last year’s BPL, all the prominent leg-spinners remained unsold.

However, Minister group Dhaka Picked Rishad Ahmed and Sylhet Sunrisers picked Jubair Hossain Likhon in their second calls.

Rishad unfortunately was ruled out of BPL for injury and Jubair was barely in the playing eleven.

One of the biggest shocks of the draft was that no team showed any interest in picking Aminul Islam Biplob, the leg-spinner who has been in and around the national T20 team.

Biplob’s international record is decent as he picked 12 wickets in 10 matches at an economy of under 12.

Although Biplob later replaced Rishad in the Dhaka squad, he was not featured at all in the tournament.

Domestic teams prefer the safe option of finger spinners over the wrist spinners on the slow and low wickets of Bangladesh to get easy success.

As a result, leg-spinners don’t get breakthroughs and the team suffers every time they play at sporting wickets.

Also, the lack of wrist-spinners means batters don’t get the chance to play quality leg-spin at home and fail miserably when they are pitted against global stars.

Leg spin is not easy; it is an art form that takes years of practice to perfect. So youngsters need icons in front of them to pursue such passions.

The late great Shane Warne inspired a skew of young cricketers across the globe to take up leg-spin.

Mohammad Rafique took the left-arm spin to the next level in Bangladesh which produced modern-day superstars like Abdul Razzaque and Shakib Al Hasan.

So Bangladesh lacks a wrist-spinning icon and today's success of Rumana and Fahima might work as a game-changer.

Every time we tell the story of our womens’ first success at the World Cup, we should simultaneously tell how two wrist spinners stood against all odds and ripped through the opponent’s batting order to secure this victory from an unlikely situation.

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