Born in Satkhira, like his father, Soumya Sarkar wanted to become a teacher. But, thanks to his cricketing talent and BKSP – the country’s biggest sports institute, he took up a career in cricket. He played two Under-19 World Cups – 2010 and 2012. The latter fetched him headlines when he Mankaded Australia’s Jimmy Peirson in a high-stakes quarterfinal clash against Australia in Townsville.
An elegant batsman and a more-than-decent medium-pace bowler, Sarkar made his first-class debut for Khulna Division in the 2010-11 season. He made his ODI debut in the final game of the home series against Zimbabwe in December 2014, where he scored 20 off 18 balls batting at No. 3. The selectors showed faith in the 21-year old and selected him for the 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia, although he had just one international game against his name. Being a permanent member in the playing eleven, in six innings, he scored 175 runs in the mega tournament.
The experience he gained during the World Cup amplified his confidence and that was evident in his form with the bat post the tournament. He was an integral part of the impressive Bangladesh set-up that defeated Pakistan, India and South Africa at home in successive series. He notched up 497 runs overall in the combined nine matches against those three strong opponents, which involved three half centuries and an unbeaten ton (133) against Pakistan. His scores of 27, 88* and 90 against the likes of Morne Morkel, Rabada, Morris and Tahir earned him the Man of the Series award.
Sarkar made his debut in the longest format against Pakistan on April 28th 2015, where he scored 33 in either innings. On the back of a couple of failures, he was dropped from the Test team. Injury to Imrul Kayes allowed Sarkar to make a comeback in the five-day format against New Zealand at Christchurch in 2017. His score of 86 in the first essay that earned him a regular place in the playing eleven. The away Test series against Sri Lanka by far till date has been his best series. He recorded three successive fifties in the two-match series which was tied 1-1. His 61 at P Sara Oval was a very important knock that helped his team win its 100th Test match – a historic match.
His numbers in T20Is have been poor. His average is below 20 playing 24 matches and is yet to register a fifty despite batting at the top. After a pile of low scores in the 50-over format, Sarkar returned back to form in the ODI tri-series held in Ireland, featuring the hosts and New Zealand in May 2017, where Bangladesh went past Sri Lanka in ODI rankings to reach the sixth spot.
Some less known facts about Soumya Sarkar:
– To emulate his childhood idols Brian Lara and Sourav Ganguly, Soumya Sarkar, primarily a right-hander switched to bat left-handed.
– He holds the joint record for the most number of catches taken in a World Cup match – 4 (with Mohammad Kaif and Umar Akmal).