@Aadya_Wisden 4 minute read
First place in Wisden’s 2022 spells of the year countdown is Ebadot Hossain’s sensational six-wicket haul in the first week of 2022, which set up a historic first for Bangladesh on New Zealand soil.
Ebadot Hossain 6-46
New Zealand v Bangladesh
Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
January 1-5, 2022
Ebadot Hossain is neither the fastest bowler nor swings the ball a mile nor towers over six feet. Sometimes, you don’t need to be any of these to bowl a great Test spell. Sometimes, through all of life’s injustice, hard work and perseverance gets its due.
That is not to doubt Ebadot’s talent, but against New Zealand, on their home soil, he conjured a spell for the ages, bowling out of his skin to emerge as the unlikely hero in one of Test cricket’s unlikeliest wins. There were bigger names and better figures in 2022, but the top spot on this list is deservedly his.
To put the occasion into context, Bangladesh have won just five of their 59 overseas Test matches. Two of those have been against a second-string side West Indies fielded in the aftermath of a pay dispute, two in Zimbabwe, and the other in Sri Lanka. In New Zealand, they had gone nine attempts, losing each one of them, before Mount Maunganui came about in the first week of 2022.
New Zealand, on the other hand, had not lost a Test match at home in nearly five years, and not to an Asian side in eleven years.
Ebadot had made his Test debut on their previous visit in 2019, bowling 43 overs across two Test matches for a single wicket. Before the Mount Maunganui Test, his career bowling average stood at 81.54. Over the next five days, it would fall by 25 units.
New Zealand, crowned World Test Champions half a year ago, began their second innings trailing by 130 runs. Ebadot did not come on until the 13th over as the third-change, but when he did, early signs indicated that he could end up bruising their top order.
First, he cranked up the pace to 88mph, holding back his length just the bit to make the batters startle with the extra bounce. Will Young managed to edge between first slip and wide slip, and Ebadot just smiled. In his fourth over, Devon Conway mimicked the same edge on the other side. In his sixth, Young edged another past a diving wide slip. Breathing hard, Ebadot smiled again. Something was brewing.
And then came the first one. Conway, having pushed everything away from his body, suddenly got one that darted in. The umpire thought it was not out, but replays revealed that an inside edge had been smartly held by a diving gully fielder, even as the rest appealed for an lbw.
Ebadot was off. Two overs later, he darted a bumper into Young’s left glove. Ebadot smiled again, but this time, with a few words along.
Young continued, and Bangladesh went without a wicket for 29 overs before Ebadot returned to claim his man with a back-of-length delivery that slipped through to hit timber. A frustrated Young swung his bat upon seeing the upset sticks. And, the Ebadot salute was out.
It took just two more deliveries to see it again. Henry Nicholls had no answers to a vicious yorker that brutally kicked out his leg stump. Ebadot saluted once more. Bangladesh’s dream was slowly manifesting.
His next over brought one more breakthrough: Tom Blundell could do little with an angling delivery that crunched into his front pad. With the team still in deficit, New Zealand had slipped from 136-2 to 136-5. Ebadot was saluting in every direction.
Next morning, Bangladesh took the field knowing history could be rewritten. In front of them stood the soon-to-retire Ross Taylor and Rachin Ravindra – who had been obdurate at the crease in India a few weeks ago. But nothing could spoil the day for Ebadot & co.: on 40, Taylor was cleaned up by an in-dipper, giving Ebadot his first five-for and a redemption to his Test numbers.
Edges continue to fly between fielders. Who knows what Ebadot would have managed if they had gone to hands? The sixth scalp came via a stunning diving catch from Shoriful Islam at short mid-wicket. By then, Bangladesh were so charged up that they were pulling off all sorts of miracles.
No Bangladesh quick has had better Test figures away from home. Ebadot has now taken the fourth-most Test wickets by any seamer from his country. Not too long afterwards, Bangladesh completed a monumental nine-wicket win, but it was probably the stirring post-match speech by Ebadot that truly signed off the achievement.
With steel in his eyes, Ebadot spoke how each teammate had promised themselves to end the 21-year winless run in New Zealand, setting an example for future generations to follow.
“I am the soldier of the Bangladesh Air Force. I know how to do salute [sic]. It’s a long story, volleyball to cricket. I’m enjoying cricket, trying to represent Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Air Force.”