Following a promising performance in the three-match T20I series in India, the Bangladesh Cricket Board kept faith in Mahmudullah Riyad to lead the Tigers in the upcoming three-match T20I series against Pakistan.
Normally a calm and composed character, Mahmudullah seemed positive about his captaincy in the shortest format as the 33-year-old walked in confidently for the pre-tour press conference ahead of Bangladesh’s chartered flight to Pakistan today.
As expected, security concerns once again dominated talks ahead of cricket itself and Mahmudullah tried to play according to the basics and focused mostly on the game.
“Initially it was tough [deciding to tour Pakistan] as there were concerns from my family. But I spoke to them and they were finally agreed so from that point I am assured that my family won’t feel stressed because Pakistan will give us top security. But I also support Mushfiqur Rahim’s decision as there are always issues with family. There can’t be anything more important than family for a cricketer or a normal person,” Mahmudullah told reporters yesterday.
In the absence of Shakib Al Hasan, the BCB is now considering Mahmudullah the captain at least for T20Is. Although the board has been naming captains on a series-by-series basis, Mahmudullah believes it will help him to plan accordingly if he is given captaincy on a long-term basis.
Even head coach Russell Domingo said that he preferred Mahmudullah as T20 captain so it will be important for Bangladesh if they are to prepare for the upcoming ICC World T20 later this year.
Apart from Shakib, Bangladesh will also miss the vast experience of Mushfiqur in Pakistan and Mahmudullah said that he and Tamim Iqbal would have to play crucial roles on the tour.
“I personally feel that Tamim and I will have added responsibility on this tour. Tamim’s experience in the top order will be vital. He was in good touch during the BPL. I personally would want to fulfil my responsibilities and I will try to bat till the end. There might be changes in the batting order for some players but I hope everyone will be able to cope,” he said.
The all-rounder was also hopeful about the younger cricketers, saying that he was confident with his team and hoping that newcomers would will apply themselves in Pakistan.
MAHMUDULLAH’S KEYS FOR PAKISTAN TOUR
Fast bowling variety
Although it is the first time in a while that Bangladesh will not have a left-arm spinner in the side, Mahmudullah believes that the variety in his fast bowling department is going to help the Tigers. The likes of Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Shafiul Islam and Hasan Mahmud have all performed well in the recently concluded BPL.
The next generation to take the baton
It seems that Bangladesh are not so far from a big transitional period with the Big Five in the final stages of their careers. According to Mahmudullah, the likes of Soumya Sarkar, Afif Hossain, Naim Sheikh and others needs to create healthy competition in the team. Mahmudullah also informed that the board had already started chalking out plans for the upcoming World T20 in October this year.
Bank on their own strengths
Bangladesh are ranked number nine in the T20I rankings and a series against the format’s top-ranked side on foreign soil will be a huge challenge.
Although Pakistan lost their recent T20I series against Sri Lanka, according to Mahmudullah said it would be important for the Tigers to bank on their own strengths and not think of the opponents. Inspiration can be drawn from Bangladesh’s recent performance in India, where the visiting Tigers displayed some good cricket despite losing the series 2-1.