Sports, Cricket

Mehidy, Shanto flex leadership credentials in partnership for ages

Published : 04 Sep 2023 07:17 PM

With Bangladesh on the brink of elimination at the Asia Cup, there was an onus on their in-form players to step up against Afghanistan. And step up, they did. Najmul Hossain Shanto, the team's leading run-scorer in all formats this year, and Mehidy Hasan Miraz, their transformed allrounder, struck vital centuries. Their 194-run stand made the difference in Bangladesh's 89-run win in Lahore.

Mehidy retiring hurt with a cramped right hand effectively ended their partnership, but when they came together in the 11th over, Bangladesh had lost two quick wickets after making their best start against Afghanistan. Mehidy was one of those who made the good start possible after bring promoted up to open.

He is growing into one of the rare international cricketers who can bat anywhere in the order, besides regularly bowling his full quota of overs. Mehidy opened the innings against a bowling attack that Bangladesh consider one of the best in the world. The absence of Tamim Iqbal (back injury) and Litton Das (fever) had already unsettled Bangladesh's usual opening line-up; and then both openers - Tanzid Hasan, on debut, and Mohammad Naim - failed in the first game against Sri Lanka. Thus, when Mehidy and Naim walked out against Afghanistan, it almost represented a hint of desperation from the Bangladesh dressing room.

Mehidy said that he was informed about the new role on the eve of this game, but that he had also mentally prepared himself.

"I am really happy to get my second hundred," Mehidy said. "I was confident batting in the middle. The team management said that I should play normal cricket. The wicket was excellent. There was a bit of movement in the first few overs. I just tried to handle the situation. We played really well in this match.

"Credit goes to the captain and team management [for the opening role]. Last night, they told me to open the innings. I agreed with them. I can play [as opener]. The last Asia Cup, I opened in the final. I was confident. I am always ready for every bowler. Actually, it is a new journey for me."

Mehidy said that although it was a hot day in Lahore, he enjoyed batting on that pitch.

"It was too hot today, but conditions in the middle were very good. The wicket was really good. This is my first game in Lahore. I was a bit confused before getting here, but our practice was excellent. I was a bit cautious at the start, but after playing a few balls, Naim and I started well. It gave me confidence."

Mehidy has picked up a knack of successfully moulding himself into every role that the team management has given him - whether with bat or ball. Like any good opening foil, he allowed Naim to go for his shots before launching into his own boundaries.

Later on, Shanto was positive from the start which was possible only because Mehidy was batting positively at the other end. Mehidy isn't your run-of-the-mill slogger from the lower order. He has shots around the wicket - from a proper cover drive to cheeky ramps to big hits down the ground. He rotates the strike, whether he is opening like he did on Sunday, or when he bats at No. 7 or 8.