Last seen in the 2012 World Twenty20 Qualifiers, explosive all rounder Mehboob Alam was not the same man who slammed 88 off 41 against Saudi Arabia during the 2011 ACC Twenty20 Cup when he had delighted the home crowds with a blistering knock.
Whenever Mehboob takes on the field, he is a hunchback of the expectations from his lovers. The 2012 World Twenty20 Qualifiers where his hunch was punctured by a needle of his poor firm. In and out at the desert of the UAE, Mehboob was then actually awaiting a period of his exile which began with coach Pubudu Dassanayake’s effort of transformation through the ICC World Cricket League Division-IV in Malaysia.
There was no Mehboob, the man loved the most before skipper Paras Khadka’s popularity soared like a hot air balloon, in the 2012 Division-IV and Nepal were triumphant for the first time in foreign soil.
There was no Mehboob and Nepal saw two centuries in a single tournament – during Division-IV – and everyone was happy. Mehboob was nowhere near the memories of the cricket lovers. There was no Mehboob and Nepal won the ACC Trophy Elite for the first time and most believed the wiping out of the Guinness Book of World Records entrant was for a good reason.
The form was taking a huge toll in Mehboob’s selection and a poor fitness level was making it even worse. While the team was rising in every other means winning back-to-back titles, back home Mehboob and his lovers panicked because he was not there.
Then came 2013, a year when Nepali team had gone up to a higher level and competition was going to get stiffer and a proof was a historical second place finish in the ACC Twenty20 Cup. Mehboob was not there again, playing some tournaments in India and seasonal events at home.
Almost out of the scene, a tummy-bulging Mehboob was pictured in those events where the Southpaw was desperate to regain his form and prove his fitness. Mehboob was living his own cricket of which most were unaware of and miles away from the country, Nepal were the Division-III champions.
Not giving a damn to the fading colours of Mehboob, fans reveled in the back-to-back international success but as the team crumbled with the disastrous ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers, the picture of their favourite opener popped out.
Facebook went frenzy: “Where is Mehboob?, We need Mehboob now. Had only Mehboob been there.” Irrespective of the fitness status on Mehboob and his form, social networking sites were flirted. But no one knew he was struggling to his old self.
As Nepali cricket travelled through a whirlwind ride of their history, Mehboob was now slowly making a return to innocence and from the recent One Day National he managed to catch the eye of the selectors but it is not the same Mehboob whose presence at the crease will now mean a big hit.
Mehboob has now transformed himself into a man who wants to keep cool. A man who always hastened to make runs, now wants to stay at the crease as long as possible. Forget the big hits early on, Mehboob will rotate strike and wait until a bad ball comes.
This is not the complete fit Mehboob who dominated the opponents with his fiery pace. In the last national, Mehboob bowled spinners and he is gradually shaping up himself with medium bowling. With a majority of key players injured, Mehboob’s selection is just responding to an optionless situation.
Don’t be surprised if he is not in the playing-XI because it is not the same Mehboob Alam whom we had seen in the past.