When 21 was required off the last eight balls, Alok Kapali hit four boundaries and calmly took the single that won Comilla Victorians a major domestic trophy. His teammates kept him in the centre of their wild celebrations. The unbeaten 39 won him the Man-of-the-Final award too. It is hard not to say that the evening of December 15 was his redemption in Bangladesh cricket after more than seven years.
Kapali, 31, was one of 13 players to join the rebel Indian Cricket League in September 2008, a defection that bruised Bangladesh cricket’s progress and ego. He was the highest scorer for the Dhaka Warriors team and although all of those players were pardoned and reintegrated back to Bangladesh cricket, he was never the same player. Two years later he was picked for Bangladesh in four ODIs and two T20s, the last of which had been in December 2011.
Among those who had left mainstream Bangladesh cricket for the ICL, Shahriar Nafees had made a decent comeback in international cricket ending in 2013 and since then has been a regular domestic performer. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Kapali’s heroics, Nafees’ unbeaten 44 after Barisal batted first would have been a more talked about innings.
On Tuesday, Kapali tried to steer clear of making any mention of the ICL but said that the last time he felt this good in a cricket field was in 2008 when he had struck 115 against India in the Asia Cup.
“I won’t call this a comeback,” Kapali said. “The current Bangladesh team is doing well and I think that I used to play for that team in the past. I am trying on my own. Actually the ICL is now in the distant past. It is better we don’t talk about it.
“I think the last time I felt this happy was when I made the century against India after we had lost four wickets and now this innings, which we really needed since we had done so well throughout the competition. I think we really needed this win in the final.”