Mahmudullah Riyad played yet another gem of a knock to arrest a collapse and helped Bangladesh to get past 500 runs, but his efforts might be forgotten this time as well.
Mirpur, 2012 – Resolve at the bottom, but forgotten
When Sohag Gazi opened the bowling in the first Test against West Indies along with Shahadat Hossain, it was regarded as a masterstroke by many and as soon as soon Gazi dismissed Chris Gayle, he became the overnight sensation. West Indies declared after posting a huge total and Bangladesh’s response was better as Nasir Hossain’s cold-blooded destruction of Caribbean attack overshadowed the likes of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Naeem Islam, Mushfiqur Rahim and of course none even bothered to care about Mahmudullah Riyad, who played a vital role in taking a 29-run lead while batting at number seven.
Bangladesh were found reeling against Tino Best while chasing 245 runs on a spin-friendly track. But one man’s steely resolve kept West Indies at bay. Mahmudullah’s calm and composed presence at the other end kept Bangladesh’s hopes alive. On a turning track, best made the ball to jump from a difficult length and except Mahmudullah, none of the batters neither showed the courage nor technique to weather the storm. But Best had the last laugh. He castled Mahmudullah and with that, Bangladesh dream of winning a Test was a dashed.
Khulna, 2012 – Bangladesh swapped by Abul euphoria and forgets the role of sheet anchor
Fidel Edwards and Darren Sammy rocked the Bangladesh top and middle order on Day 1 of second Test. At 193 for 8, the home team were all set to cut a sorry figure, but one man named Mahmudullah Riyad thought, still the situation could be stabilised if he is provided with an able support. Abul Hasan, better known as a pace bowler, stepped up to script one of the most entertaining knocks in history of Test cricket at number 10 and stitched a partnership of 184 for the ninth wicket and stunned the West Indians.
The whole Bangladesh was swapped by Abul euphoria and fans and sports journalists rushed in to take photographs with him but did not even bother to notice the person who played the role of sheet anchor and provided Abul the much-needed assurance.
Chittagong, 2015 – Composure at the top but forgotten by Mustafiz mania
Mustafizur Rahman dished out an inspiring spell on Day 1 of first Test against South Africa. After Mustafiz’s heroics in 50-over formats, his outstanding spell to set jitters in Proteas batting line-up made him the poster boy of Bangladesh cricket. None of the Bangladeshis would spend the day without taking the name of Mustafiz.
But in the middle of the pitch, Bangladesh batters were finding it tough against the nagging and incisive line-and-length bowling of South African bowlers. Imrul Kayes and Mominul Haque departed quickly and Bangladesh needed someone to arrest a certain collapse. Who could be better than Mahmudullah to do the repair work? He came out to bat at number four and exhibited high-quality temperament and technique and a track which was slow and low. His 192-ball 67 runs helped Bangladesh to build a strong foundation and take a healthy lead. Sadly, the Test was abandoned due to inclement weather otherwise, the result could have gone in favour of Tigers.
But, Bangladesh remained busy with Fizz mania and forgot to thank Mahmudullah for his composure.
Such has been the life of Mahmudullah so far. He has been a silent, but a highly effective contributor for Bangladesh since his debut. More often, Bangladesh forgot his contributions and I guess, I should say, they love to forget Mahmudullah’s efforts, which has always surprised me as a cricket follower.
Even today, on the second day of first Test at Mirpur against Sri Lanka, on a flat deck, Bangladesh middle order was in a mood to throw their wickets away, but yet again, Mahmudullah held one end firm and marshalled the lower order wonderfully to help Bangladesh cross 500 runs in first innings. Sadly, his resolve was forgotten as soon as Bangladesh innings ended and the name of Mominul echoed more.
Traditionally, Bangladesh fans and media love to worship macho characters. The machos have always been portrayed as heroes and superstars. The modern fans love those who hog the limelight either by saying something patriotic or exhibiting aggression. Even if they are not performing, they love to remember them every day as the celebrated people of print, electronic and social media don’t let them shift their focus to those who strike the chord somewhere else.
Mahmudullah strikes a different chord. Neither has he the tendency to hog the limelight by patriotic statements nor would he display aggression to hit the headlines. He would work silently and make everyone look what an achievement looks like. He has been one of those unsung heroes of Bangladesh cricket who has been blazing torches in the dark streets whenever the Tigers lost their way.
In life, we hardly try to recognise our true heroes and performers. A person of solid virtues who can be admired for something more substantial than his well-knownness often proves to be the unsung hero and Mahmudullah is one of those persons.
Don’t forget Mahmudullah
Tamim’s stroke-play gave us unprecedented joy, Mominul’s hundred is talked more as there is that Chandika matter involved in it while Mushfiq’s inability to score a hundred has saddened your heart. Then, you are praising Sunzamul Islam’s stubborn resistance with the bat, but aren’t you forgetting to talk about Mahmudullah’s ability to bat with the lower order again? I am sure, you have forgotten about him already.
Yes, Mahmudullah is an ordinary person according to you, but don’t forget, “A hero is an ordinary person who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles”. (Christopher Reeve)