Friday, 24 September, 2021

Mahmudullah displays brave return

Mahmudullah displays brave return
Bangladesh players and officials applaud all-rounder Mahmudullah (second right) and pacer Taskin Ahmed (right) while they are returning to dressing room against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club on Thursday. — ZC PHOTO

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Bangladesh all-rounder Mahmudullah completed a majestic comeback in the longer format after he smashed a scintillating hundred against Zimbabwe on the second day of the one-off Test series at Harare Sports Club on Thursday.

The 35-year old, who returned to the Test fold after 17 months, struck career-best unbeaten 150 off 278 balls in such a time when both he and Bangladesh were desperately in need of such knock to get out from their desperate situations.

If Bangladesh were only thrilled with the rescue mission staged by Mahmudullah and Liton Das on the opening day after reducing them to 132-6, the first session of the second day brought them bigger surprises as Mahmudullah showed his class with Taskin Ahmed delivering incredible support from the other hand.

Taskin scored his maiden Test fifty but it was Mahmudullah who stole all the limelight on his 50th Test with a brilliant century only to prove that he is yet not finished in the longer format.

Mahmudullah was axed from the Test format after their tour of Pakistan in February 2020 as Bangladesh team management was not impressed with his mode of dismissal after becoming the hattrick victim to 16-year old Pakistan pacer Naseem Shah - fishing after a wide delivery to get an outside edge.

Since then he was not considered in the longer version and BCB’s decision to exclude him from the all-format contract and only putting him white-ball contract only suggested his Test future was nothing but bleak.

Mahmudullah was also not included in the initial Test tour party against Zimbabwe and only managed to make a cut as a backup of two senior cricketers - Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim, who were recovering from respective injuries.

The right-hander only managed to get in the playing XI after Tamim was ruled out of the match due to his knee injury and he made an unbeaten 54 on the first day to rescue Bangladesh from big embarrassment.

On Thursday, it was a day of self career redemption for Mahmudullah and he struck a pair of boundaries through the covers off Roy Kaia to bring up his fifth Test century and also became the first Bangladeshi to score a ton on his 50th Test.     

His magnificent knock and a record-breaking 191-run stand with Taskin (75 off 134 balls) for the ninth wicket not only put Bangladesh in the driving seat in the match from a dying situation but also helped them score their highest Test total, 468, against Zimbabwe in Harare.

Mahmudullah had an answer to almost all questions set by Zimbabwe bowlers, who seemed to be running out of ideas despite making a tremendous start on the opening day and the right-hander targeted the front of the wicket for his runs with most of them coming in the cover and midwicket regions.

Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo is known to be the main reason behind chopping off Mahmudullah from the Test set-up and he finally had to include the all-rounder in the Test squad against Zimbabwe at the insistence of BCB high-ups.

Mahmudullah looked determined to seize the given opportunity during his entire innings and the way he celebrated after reaching the three-digit mark only showed his relief after answering all the critics with his bat.