Chittagong: It's not often that a match-winning performance on the cricket field gets overlooked when adjudicators decide man of the match awards. But it has happened three times to Bangladesh seamer Shafiul Islam in this World Cup, each time the award going to batsmen who are as surprised as teammates and fans alike by the choice.
The 21-year-old had put on spirited displays with bat and ball to keep Bangladesh's dream alive of playing in the knock-out rounds of a tournament they are co-hosting for the first time.
After Bangladesh were restricted to 205 by Ireland on a good surface in Dhaka, Shafiul produced a burst of 4-21 that helped bowl out the rivals for 178. Opener Tamim Iqbal, who won the award for making 44 and taking a crucial catch, admitted then that Shafiul deserved the honour more than him.
Against England, Bangladesh plunged to 169-8 chasing a modest target of 226, when Shafiul and Mohammad Mahmudullah turned the game on its head by adding 58 unbeaten runs for the ninth wicket.
Tailender Shafiul came out swinging to make 24 not out, including the only six of the day in seasoned off-spinner Graeme Swann's final over which cost 16 runs. But the man of the match award went to Imrul Kayes for scoring 60 at the top of the order.
"Shafiul should have got it," said Kayes, who won his second award on Monday against the Netherlands for 73 not out as Bangladesh chased down 160 for the loss of four wickets.
Dutch captain Peter Borren credited Bangladesh's success to Shafiul, who conceded just seven runs in his first six overs to restrict the rivals to 28-0 by the ninth over.
"Shafiul bowled very well today," Borren said. "He was consistent and did not bowl bad balls."We were looking at opportunities of scoring in the initial powerplays when the ball was hard, but to be honest Shafiul did not allow us to do that. "He went without a wicket, but probably deserved many."
The unassuming Shafiul, the son of a grocery shop owner in Bogra town, played down the rebuff from adjudicators.
"It's okay, I don't mind it at all," he said. "The important thing is that the team wins. The man of the match is just a tag."
For Shafiul, wearing the green Tigers jersey is the ultimate honour.
"When I as growing up, I would wear fake Bangladesh shirts while playing in my neighbourhood. I never expected I will wear the real one some day," the pacer recollects.
Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan saluted Shafiul, calling him a vital cog in the team's prospects.
"He is one of the most selfless players I have seen," Shakib said. "He is willing to do anything for the team. Of course, he deserved some man of the match awards.
"But I am sure he will get some on the way. The tournament is not over yet for us," he added.
Bangladesh are level with the West Indies and South Africa on six points, one behind Group B leaders India and a point ahead of England, with four teams qualifying for the knockout round.
A West Indies win over England in Chennai on Thursday would mean Bangladesh will be through to the last eight even before their final league match against South Africa in Dhaka on Saturday.`