This BPL has seen the rise of a few youngsters, which bolsters belief that the future of the T20I unit may not be quite as uncertain as it appeared after veterans such as Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal retired from the national T20 duties. However, there are others such as Sheikh Mahedi Hasan, who have not been able to find a grip on their national team roles yet.
Mahedi was dropped from the T20 World Cup squad last year after failing to impress selectors with his performances. Having played 122 T20 games, including 38 T20Is, this is a critical time in the 28-year-old’s career. Yesterday, he showed some of the charisma he had shown in earlier editions of the BPL, where he was able to dominate proceedings and take responsibility for his team.
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He played an inside-out shot over cover off Amir Hamza to pick up a six, hammered one short delivery for six and was able to rely on his strengths square of the wicket to good effect as he had done while in form.
His 43-ball 72, laced with six fours and five sixes, helped Rangpur to a five-wicket win over Dhaka Dominators and also to 10 points in the tournament. His best outing with the bat this BPL prior had been a score of 38 against Khulna Tigers. The obvious question was whether he could be relied upon in one particular position, especially as he has also appeared in various positions for the national team.
Sylhet Strikers batters Towhid Hridoy and Zakir Hassan embrace each other after the former’s half-century during their BPL fixture against Khulna Tigers at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium yesterday. Hridoy scored 74 while Zakir made 53 as the hosts set up a challenging total of 192 for four in their allotted 20 overs. PHOTO: FIROZ AHMED“>
Sylhet Strikers batters Towhid Hridoy and Zakir Hassan embrace each other after the former’s half-century during their BPL fixture against Khulna Tigers at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium yesterday. Hridoy scored 74 while Zakir made 53 as the hosts set up a challenging total of 192 for four in their allotted 20 overs. PHOTO: FIROZ AHMED
Mahedi has been tried at the top in the national team but has also come in at number seven or eight. This BPL, he came in at number three on four occasions and opened the innings once. The consistency might have come good.
Rangpur Riders coach Sohel Islam talked about Mahedi’s return to runs yesterday, saying: “When we picked him, the thinking was to play him at number three. He wasn’t amongst the runs but he is now. We were very confident he would come good. We knew if he got a big score in one innings, his confidence would return. This is why he got opportunities consistently.”
Maybe confidence and consistency in the batting order did not always work in Mahedi’s favour, but after having played so many games, he is no longer considered one for the future, but rather the present.
“When a guy is in a downward spiral, it’s important to back him. I was always confident in his bowling but he didn’t have rhythm with the bat and there was shuffling when he did play. If he was to get set in one position [it is better] … and you need to give time to those who face the new ball. He was not a natural top-order batter and since we tried him at the top, we had to give him time. The confidence you need to inject to allow him to play at the top was very important,” Sohel said.
Usually used as a pinch-hitting option in the national side, Mahedi had shown more flair and versatility in BPL before.
Mahedi will not have a better time to showcase his skills and show his calibre for the national side. The future of the T20I outfit is the present for Mahedi given the vacuum created by veterans’ retirement. The critical element now is consistency and Mahedi needs to pile up a string of performances.
“I think he is better at the top because, given his range of shots, he is more prone to succeeding in the Powerplay,” Sohel said. Time will tell whether the required ingredient comes good for Mahedi in the national outfit too.