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Perseverance pays off for Mahmudullah

Messenger Sports

Published: 20:21, 16 May 2024

Perseverance pays off for Mahmudullah

Photo: Collected

It isn't over until it's over!! Bangladesh's Mahmudullah seems to have taken a leaf out of this saying by battling all odds to complete a successful comeback into the national T20I side. He was first picked for the home series against Sri Lanka and played a role in Bangladesh's win over Zimbabwe as well in the recently-concluded series which has now resulted in him getting picked for the T20 World Cup, scheduled to be held next month.

While his fellow mates Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim gave up and announced their retirements from the format, Mahmudullah refused to give up despite not being picked for the last tournament in 2022.

While there are players in Bangladesh's history with a better record than the veteran, a very few can match Mahmudullah's determination to not give up.

The former T20I skipper surprised the BCB high-ups by stating that he wanted to continue playing when they asked him about his future plans. Many felt the end was near especially after his Test retirement didn't go down well with the board.

The right-handed batter was left in wilderness following his exclusion from the Asia Cup squad and it looked all but over for him as far as his international career was concerned as he was playing only ODIs.

Mahmudullah hardly craved for media attention even at times when he wasn't being picked in the squads across formats. Rather, he focussed on working hard and winning his place back, like he did last year as well just before the ODI World Cup when the selectors brought him back after ending their youth experiment.

Mahmudullah pushed his way into the World Cup squad and seized the opportunity with both hands to showcase he still had what it takes to deliver at the highest level.

The veteran even hit a century and was his country's highest rungetter in the tournament. He put all doubts to rest recently related to his effectiveness in the shortest format by playing a crucial role in Fortune Barisal clinching their maiden BPL title.

Dav Whatmore, the former Bangladesh head coach, who acted as technical director of Fortune Barishal, told Cricbuzz that he feels Mahmudullah had the power to clear the ropes and can be used in the finisher role which requires experience to handle the pressure.

"He has got the experience to do the finishers' role. It (T20) is a very athletic and volatile game but it also has a place for experience," Whatmore told this website when his attention was drawn regarding Mahmudullah's place in the shortest format.

Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusingha echoed the same sentiment and insisted that they will use him as an enforcer in the middle overs and as a finisher as well.

"He (Mahmudullah) been playing regularly but his comeback, I thought was strong. Lately, if you see, that he's playing his best cricket.

He's changed a lot the way he approached batting. He's in good form. His role is going to be batting in the middle order, probably be the enforcer in the middle as well as a finisher role, which he has done remarkably well lately in all formats, in domestic as well," Hathurusingha told reporters at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Tuesday (May 15).

Bangladesh skipper Najmul Hossain insisted that the 38-year old fighter is an inspiration for youngsters who are aspiring to make a comeback into the national side, "The team is benefiting from Riyad's bhai role in the batting line-up, at No 5 or 6.

It gives the team an extra advantage of setting up a good total. He is an inspiration for the youngsters. He has shown how to comeback from such a tough situation," he said.

Perhaps, Mahmudullah's biggest victory in this comeback journey has been earning the trust of the board again who are not keen on pushing him into retirement after the showpiece event.

"We haven't spoken about these things (his retirement from T20Is after the World Cup). I don't think there is anything like that because he is still playing and the way he is playing now is brilliant," BCB president Nazmul Hasan told reporters following a meeting with Mahmudullah after the last T20I against Zimbabwe, where he scored a brilliant fifty though it went in vain due to an overall batting failure.

Whether Mahmudullah continues to play T20Is after the World Cup is a matter for the future but one thing is certain for now- writing off a cricketer's future can always turn out to be a big mistake given the sport's propensity to flip the narrative on its head.