“Mahmudullah needs to work on his consistency and try to play such knocks more often”
After losing a nail-biting second encounter, where Bangladesh failed to hold their nerves, they sealed the series with a magnificent performance at Basseterre on Sunday. Bangladesh batsmen fired with all cylinders, especially Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah to help their side post a competitive total. Bangladesh needed the ODI series win to infuse some confidence in themselves after the kind of thrashing they got in the Test series. They were completely outplayed in the Test series, and had a huge mountain to climb coming into the ODIs. The momentum was with West Indies, but Bangladesh did well to defy all the odds and win the ODI series.
Bangladesh had won matches in the recent times, but a series win is what the need of the hour was. Tamim Iqbal hogged all the headlines for his masterful hundred but there was one unsung hero behind this successful campaign – Mahmudullah. He has been one of the vital cogs in this Bangladeshi line-up and has gone about his job quite silently. He gets the tough runs and often remains the silent assassin in crunch situations. His brisk knock in this innings was overshadowed by Tamim Iqbal’s scintillating ton, but had an equal role to play behind this win.
In this encounter, Mahmudullah played a key role in getting Bangladesh over the 300-run mark. His unbeaten knock of 49-ball 67 provided the much-needed impetus to Bangladesh’s run after Tamim Iqbal’s fall. Mahmudullah stitched a crucial partnership with Mashrafe Mortaza, who promoted himself up the order in order to get the quick runs. The move paved off as both the batsmen fired with all guns and West Indies bowlers had a tough time confronting them.
Bangladesh scored 96 off the final ten overs, which speaks about the kind of dominance their batsmen had over the bowlers. Mahmudullah walked in to bat when Bangladesh were delicately placed at 152 for 3 in 31.1 overs. This was a very delicate situation as a wicket here would have steered the visiting side into all sorts of trouble. Bangladesh needed a partnership in order to put West Indies on the back foot. Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim got good starts but failed to convert.
Tamim was well set at the other end and needed someone to accompany him. There wouldn’t have been a better option than Mahmudullah. He read the situation and planned a strategy in no time. He got the ball rolling from the outset. Scoring runs was not easy on this surface, but Mahmudullah made it look extremely easy. Bangladeshi bowlers did well to restrict the star-studded West Indies line-up to 283 and win the contest by 18 runs.
Mahmudullah had a crucial role to play in this series like he famously did it back in 2012 at home. When Bangladesh defeated West Indies for the first time in a series on home soil, Mahmudullah made rounds for his blistering performance. Bangladesh more often find themselves in a good position when Mahmudullah’s willow fires.
Mortaza spoke about his elevation and Mahmudllah’s presence at the wicket. He was quoted in a report from ESPNCricinfo saying, “Coach wanted to change the trigger after 35 overs. So I told him that I should go. It would be harder for a batsman to start hitting as there’s a value to his wicket. I thought I should take the risk. Coached backed me. I always feel at ease seeing [Mahmudullah] Riyad at the wicket. We have had small partnerships in the past. He has always done well in the crisis moments. I think Tamim, Shakib, Mushfiqur and Riyad were outstanding in this series.”
An ODI average of 34.71 might not portray the kind of talent Mahmudllah possesses. His presence gives that solid assurance when he is out in the middle, but consistency has been an issue. There is hardly any flaw in his technique but has something to do with the temperament. With few months to go into the World Cup, this series win will definitely push the Bangladeshi side for good, but they still have a long way to go and a lot of questions to answer.
Mahmudullah needs to work on his consistency and try to play such knocks more often. As of now, Bangladesh’s next target would be to conquer the next major ODI series ahead and once again Mahmudullah might be the man to watch out in the middle.