Nihaduzzaman’s life was going ahead as planned. The left-arm spinner from Rajshahi climbed up the ladder of age-level cricket and took part in the Under-19 World Cup. He was also part of the BCB High Performance Unit and a regular fixture in domestic cricket.
Every young Bangladeshi cricketer’s career follows this same route. After that, the doors to the next level opens up to those who raise their skill level, work hard, perform well and utilise their opportunities.
But Nihaduzzaman’s journey came to a screeching halt in 2015 due to a serious road accident.
After completing an HP unit’s camp, Nihaduzzaman was going to Rajshahi on a bus to join the divisional team for a training camp ahead of the National Cricket League (NCL). In Sirajganj, his bus had a front on collision with another bus which was going the opposite direction.
Nihaduzzaman sustained serious injuries in the accident, he lost a lot of blood. He fractured his skull in three different spots. He required six stiches behind his head, two on his forehead and four more on his left eye brow.
This promising left-arm spinner saw death from up close. He returned to cricket that very year. But bad luck still followed him as in 2017 he broke his hand after getting hit with a ball.
It took Nihaduzzaman two years to recover from that setback. The Covid-19 induced break was also a big impediment for his comeback.
By then, Nihaduzzaman’s teammates from the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014 like Liton Das, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mustafizur Rahman, Najmul Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain were regular members of the national team. Yasir Ali and Zakir Hasan have also entered that list. Meanwhile, Nihaduzzaman was trying to make a comeback from repeated setbacks.
This left-arm spinner made his comeback to cricket in last year’s Dhaka Premier League (DPL) and also took part in the NCL. Nihaduzzaman is now writing a new chapter in his career.
He has played five matches for Chattogram Challengers so far in this year’s Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), where he claimed eight wickets. He took four of those wickets against the star-studded Fortune Barishal team on Friday.
In dewy conditions, he conceded just 17 runs from four overs and claimed the wickets of Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Chaturanga de Silva and Iftikhar Ahmed.
After the match, Nihaduzzaman expressed satisfaction over his bowling, “I’m bowling well. I’m making plans for myself and bowling accordingly. I’ve thought about what conditions I would have to bowl in. I’ve practiced with the wet ball also. All my efforts are paying off.”
He didn’t hide the added satisfaction he felt when he claimed the wickets of the most in-form opponent batters, Shakib and Iftikhar.
“Shakib bhai is in excellent form. Iftikhar is also playing well. I really wanted to take both their wickets. In the end, it feels great that I managed to get them out. But my most favourite wicket was Shakib bhai.”
Nihaduzzaman was saying all of this with a satisfied smile on his face. And why wouldn’t he smile, as playing competitive cricket, the joy of being in discussion through good performances, all this had almost disappeared from Nihaduzzaman’s life!
“I was on a great platform. I was in the system from when I was a kid, played in the U-15, U-17 and U-19 teams… I took part in the (U-19) World Cup, I was in the HP team. But unfortunately, I had a few accidents. I also got injured. I broke my left arm. I had to change my action. I have gone through a very difficult period in my life.”
For Nihaduzzaman, BPL is the platform to start his career from scratch, “This is a great platform for me to make a comeback. I couldn’t play in the last two BPLs. So, this is a great opportunity for me.”