After the U-19 World Cup, Saifuddin had a few hiccups – fitness issues and was reported for a suspect bowling action. The all-rounder fought his way out of trouble and his performances in the Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams Cup for Bangladesh U-23 helped him receive a maiden call-up to the Bangladesh T20I side in April 2017 against Sri Lanka.
Post his T20I debut series in Sri Lanka, Saifuddin made his ODI debut against South Africa – where he played a cameo with the bat but proved to be too expensive with the ball. The team management picked him for the T20Is in the same tour and unfortunately had to face David Miller’s wrath. Saifuddin was hit for five successive sixes in an over by Miller, who went onto smash the joint fastest T20I century (35 deliveries).
Saifuddin failed to prove his mettle in the following couple of matches he played and that resulted in him being dropped. However, contrary to popular opinion, Saifuddin was picked for the home ODI series against Zimbabwe in October 2018 and the all-rounder silenced his critics in his comeback game. With his team under pressure, Saifuddin stitched a 127-run match-winning stand with Imrul Kayes, with the former recording his maiden ODI half-century. And, in the following match, he topped it up with a Man of the Match-winning show with the ball (3/45 in 10 overs).
With the bat in his hand, Saifuddin uses the long handle to good effect and he is strong in front of square on either side of the wicket. If he can be more disciplined with the ball, Saifuddin would be a promising prospect for Bangladesh in the long run.
What to expect in the 2019 WC?
The under-19 World Cup was one stage on which Mohammad Saifuddin announced his arrival with a flurry of wickets. But few things would have changed when he dons the WC jersey for the senior team in the 2019 WC. A skiddy bowler with a good yorker, Saifuddin bowled really well in the Ireland tri-series which was Bangladesh’s first multi-tournament win in ODIs. With Mashrafe’s career in its last lap, Saifuddin will have to be potent in combination with Mustafizur.
His lusty hitting will be another x-factor that might work for Bangladesh in times of need. He will mostly operate with the new and the old ball, and that is usually where the game is won or lost. A vital cog to his team, there would be eye-balls on Saifuddin.