Bangladesh opener Liton Das capitalised his lifeline as he scored a brilliant hundred against Zimbabwe in his comeback game at Harare Sports Club on Friday.
After his 176-run master-class innings against the same opponent, the elegant opener had a string of low scores -- 14, 22, 0, 19, 0, 21, 0 and 25 -- in his last eight matches that prompted the team management to drop him from their last ODI match against Sri Lanka.Mohammad Naim came into the scene as a probable replacement of Liton and many started questioning whether Naim will be given a long run at the top along with Tamim Iqbal after a series of failures by Liton.
Naim even opened in the warm-up game along with Tamim to put fuel in the speculation that suggested his place was not guaranteed in the ODIs.
To make things worse skipper Tamim during the pre-series presser suggested that he might be demoted down the order as they were without Mushfiqur Rahim, who left the team due to family reasons.
However, the team management kept their faith in Liton considering his last innings against the same opponent that is still the highest ODI score by any Bangladeshi and he repaid them back with a match-saving hundred.
Liton’s innings of 102 from 114 balls brought back the hosts from the corner of despair as they were struggling at 74-4 at one point.
The wicketkeeper-batsman had earlier insisted that he needed to stay at the wicket for 30 overs or so to make a good contribution for his team and he managed to display it to perfection against his favourite opponents.Zimbabwe pacers, precisely Blessing Mazurabani, started well on a lively Harare wicket and Bangladesh made the worst possible start to their innings as they lost skipper Tamim in the third over without any run on the scoreboard.
Shakib came up with a counter-attack to ease the pressure on his way to 25-ball 19 with three boundaries and Liton decided to play second fiddle to set his eyes in.
After the departure of Shakib, Liton was running short of partners as neither Mohammad Mithun nor Mossadek Hossain could give him company.
However, Liton got an able partner in Mahmudullah and the duo came up with a rescue act adding 93 runs for the fifth wicket before the latter departed.
Liton stood tall after the departure of Mahmudullah’s wicket and essayed a volley of shots to reach his century in the 40th over and in the process formed a good partnership with Afif Hossain to push the score over 200 runs.
Liton looked relieved after completing the century considering his place was in scrutiny in the ODI format and came close to a hundred during the Test series when he made 95 runs for the team.
The urgency of Liton to make this opportunity count was proved by the fact that he batted with uneasiness in his wrist that forced the team management to send a substitute keeper in this game.
“Litton has a little bit of unease on his wrists which could hamper keeping so Nurul Hasan is the substitute keeper,” a member of the team management confirmed The Daily Sun.
Liton missed the bulk of Dhaka Premier League matches due to a wrist injury and whether he had suffered on the same wrist could not be confirmed immediately but one thing look certain, Liton made his opportunity count.
“I have got a little bit of groin problem but hopefully after a little bit of recovery tomorrow and I’ll be fine,” said man-of-the-match Liton, adding that he is satisfied with his contribution in the match.
“It’s really good to bat on this surface and happy with my effort today. Initially, the pitch was favouring the bowlers and I managed really well in the first 15-20 overs and then it got easy,” he added.