Bastab K Parida
15 Sep 2023 | 05:57 PM

In Towhid Hridoy, Bangladesh have a man for long haul

It helped that he is perhaps Bangladesh’s best batter against spin, having averaged over 80 against every spin bowling type in his nascent ODI career

Towhid Hridoy doesn’t celebrate wildly. Nor does he run all around the cricket field like a headless chicken. But was he always that calm? 

Cast your mind back to February 2020, when Bangladesh had created history by winning their first global cricket championship of any kind by beating India in the finals of the ICC U19 World Cup in South Africa; it was Hridoy who was the subject of the biggest controversy.

Right after the victory, players from both sides were seen engaging in pushing and shoving each other on the field. The International Cricket Council (ICC) didn't take kindly to this behaviour, and Hridoy, the main instigator of the fracas, faced the consequences with a hefty 10 demerit points.

Fast forward to more than three years later, Hridoy faced India once again. Much has changed since that incident. No longer a young colt, Hridoy has transformed into one of the pivotal members of the Bangladeshi side under Shakib Al Hasan's captaincy in the last six months. In the short period of time, he has established a decent body of work to solidify his reputation as a crisis man and stake a claim for a permanent spot in the batting lineup, even when Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim return to the XI.

And staking a claim as he did, with two consecutive fifties against Sri Lanka and India when the team were down and out. To put his contributions into perspective, in the ongoing Asia Cup, Hridoy has already batted in three different positions over five innings: once at number three, twice at five, and twice at six. Not once did he voice any complaints. His mantra is clear: adapt to the team's needs and be willing to play wherever required for the greater good of the side. And boy, did he live up to that?

After scoring an impressive 403 runs in the Bangladesh Premier League, his stake was impossible to ignore. It was just the beginning; he then showcased his prowess by amassing 93 runs on his ODI debut against England, followed by a 155-run season at an average of 38.75 in just six matches in the Lanka Premier League (LPL). Initially intended as a replacement for Shoaib Malik in the Jaffna Kings lineup, Hridoy emerged as their highest run-scorer in the competition.

When Bangladesh needed him to stand up against Sri Lanka in a do-or-die encounter, Hridoy was the point of difference. It helped that he is perhaps Bangladesh’s best batter against spin, having averaged over 80 against each spin bowling type in his ODI career. His presence yielded Bangladesh a major brownie point in the middle overs, irrespective of the end result.

With Bangladesh losing three wickets for only 28 runs against India on Friday, Hridoy had to negotiate the spinners well. It was good that he had an experienced Shakib Al Hasan manning the other end. During the partnership, the duo were sensible with their attack as the 22-year-old scored at a strike rate of 133.3 against offspinners, whereas Shakib decided to take on left-arm orthodox spinners at 130.8. 

Even though that approach needed Hridoy to slow down against other bowling types, he didn’t mind that either, having scored his fourth ODI 50-plus score on a challenging deck.

Although his dismissal occurred at a less-than-ideal juncture, with Shakib and Shmmim Hasan falling shortly thereafter, we must cut him some slack. Hridoy is still in the formative stages of his international career, yet he has already delivered numerous moments of stunning success and showcased a talent that could significantly shape his future narrative. 

It is imperative for Bangladesh to nurture and protect him, ensuring he stays on course and doesn't lose his way.

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