Sunday, February 25, 2024

A Simple Man

The Tigers’ silent performer Mahmudullah Riyad, who already won the hearts of millions of cricket lovers for his elegant style of batting, was happy with his consistent performance with the bat as well as effective contribution with the ball in Bangladesh’s home series against the West Indies, and was delighted with the way his team won the one-day series. The soft-spoken cricketer from Mymensingh hogged the spotlight after the completion of the Test and one-day series but to the stylish batsman the team always comes first. The all-rounder spoke of his philosophy and expectations during a freewheeling conversation with reporters at the poolside of the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel the day after Bangladesh’s memorable series victory on Saturday. The following is an excerpt from the encounter.
Question (Q): You were promoted to number five in the last match and the plan seemed to have worked fine.
Answer (A): Yeah, the promotion worked. However, it wasn’t a different role at all. I batted at number five before. On the match day Mushfiqur (Rahim) asked me to bat at five, Nasir (Hossain) at 6 and Shohag at 7. It was a plan.
Q: Bangladesh was reeling at 30 for 3.What was going through your mind when you came to bat?
A: Honestly speaking I didn’t think about anything. I just went there to bat in my natural way. I was confident. I tried hitting the bad balls and they went for boundaries, so I grew in confidence. We had small targets and at first it was about crossing the 100 mark and then the 150. We just wanted to get as close to the total as possible.
Q: The ball that you were bowled by, was the bounce improper?
M: That ball stayed a little low. I initially thought of playing a slog sweep and then I thought that (Sunil) Narine is their strike bowler, let’s play a safe shot. I was in two minds and that cost me my wicket.
Q: Before the series there was talk about your lack of form. Were you worried?
A: I thank God that I found form. I wasn’t thinking about my form or the situation before the series. My last few matches weren’t that great. Since I normally bat at number 7, I can’t always make big scores. I have mostly had the contributor’s role, something that not many people notice.
Q: Did your good form in the Test match give you the confidence to excel in the ODIs?
A: I performed well in the first innings of the first Test match and I think that gave me a huge boost.
Q: Good players perform under pressure and that’s what you did. How does it feel?
A: I am a very simple man. I see cricket through very simple steps, and the simple fact is that if you don’t perform you don’t deserve to be in the team. Yes the vice-captain tag is an additional duty but you’ve still got to perform. There was a little pressure on me before this series but I received support from my captain and teammates.
Q: Do you consider your performance in this series to be the best in your career?
A: Yes, I think this was one of the rare series where I performed well both in the one-dayers and the Test matches.
Q: You have the distinct record of scoring the maximum runs in world cricket while batting at number 7 since your debut. Do you want to continue batting at this position?
A: I wasn’t aware of that record firstly (smiling). And well, it’s the team’s decision. This series is special because we have been playing well right from the beginning throughout the month and so it feels really good to have won the series.
Q: How has the presence of Saqlain Mushtaq in the team helped the spinners and the dressing room as a whole?
A: He is a great guy, not only does he support the bowlers, but he also provides support on a mental level. He talks to all of us individually which helps a lot. He has gone through a lot in international cricket and it helped quite a bit.
Q: How has the vice-captaincy role been so far?
A: I have always tried to assist the captain. Mushfiq is an intelligent boy. We talk to each other a lot, along with the other senior players. Because Shakib wasn’t there in this series, I felt that I had to take a little more responsibility and stand up for the team. Shakib is the best player in the team and his absence was obviously a negative.
Q: Lastly, how did the Bangladeshi team catch up to the ‘Gangnam Style’?
A: The song is obviously very catchy and popular, especially the way the West Indies team danced after winning the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. We used to dance to it in the dressing room just for fun. So we decided that if we win the series we’d dance to it together on the field.

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