Carissa Musrat rounds up Mahmudullah’s historic moments and his experiences in the ICC World Cup
Photos: Kamrul Hassan Babu
Mahmudullah Riyad has won the hearts of millions of Bangladeshis. The twenty nine year old has made a remarkable difference in the legacy of Bangladesh’s cricket after scoring the first ever century by a Bangladeshi batsman against England and then scoring a historical World Cup century against New Zealand in the ICC World Cup this year. The all-rounder is bestowed with immense love and admiration across the globe, upholding our nation’s name in the biggest cricketing platform. It was a moment of unification for the nation amidst all the asymmetry and chaos in the country.
The journey must have been incredible. He smiles, “It has been almost eight years now since my debut and the journey couldn’t have been better.” Often cricketers face a lot of criticism for their unsatisfactory performance and Mahmudullah too was a target of this reprobation. Though it can be rather demoralising for a player, Mahmudullah perceived it as a learning curve which impelled him to do better. However, critics are known to switch back and forth with their opinions at the drop of a hat. Mahmudullah is unfazed, “Be it criticism or appreciation, I stay neutral to their judgment and don’t let it affect my performance. It is natural to face criticism when your performance is poor and gain recognition when you perform well.” In the ICC World Cup, Mahmudullah’s controversial “out” against India in the quarter finals was a moment of dismay and skepticism for the nation. The decision raised a lot of questions on ICC’s favouritism towards India. “I accepted the decision; there was nothing to be done. True, I had a great scope to do better if the result was positive towards us.”
Diving right into the world cup performance with two consecutive centuries, the top order batsman humbly credits his team for enabling him to achieve this historic status as a Bangladeshi player.
“I was confident to perform well and give my best but I never thought about achieving such a big feat. Fortunately, it worked out in the matches and we won against England. However, I would give a lot of credit to the bowlers for the win.” But surely this required standout strategy for such a superior performance to which he responds, “Well, I tried to stay calm and give the best along with my team. I strived to survive the earlier period and stay put till the end.”
Being overwhelmed with love and support from so many Bangladeshi fans after returning from the World Cup and the increased level of expectations from people must be pressurising. “The pressure is constant, be it a domestic match or an international one but the trick is to find a way to perform well.”
On further conversation on his batting order, Mahmudullah confesses his preference to come in, two wickets down, as he believes he gets more balls to settle and perform well, as proven in the World Cup. He feels his strength and skill in that position works really well for him.
We wonder who his favourite cricketing icon is and he beams, “I admire Mahendra Singh Dhoni as he has the right temperament in the field along with amazing captaincy and technique.” Lastly, it’s important to have mentors to keep one going. Ramadan is the toughest time of the year for the athletes and players round the world. Regardless, they still have to make progress during this time. “The best cricket advice I received was from Shujon who has taught me a lot since I started playing under him in divisional cricket. He goes by the saying, ‘If you don’t give, you won’t get,’ and that’s how Mahmudullah gets it on!
Quickfire with Mahmudullah Riyad
What do you want to achieve in the next ten years?
I just want to play better, keep myself fit and serve my team.
Three things the world would be surprised to know about you?
Humorous within my zone, good at mimicry and pretty hot tempered at times.
What do you enjoy playing more? ODI or tests?
Most memorable match till now?
The match against England at the ICC World Cup
Ultimate achievement in life?
I want to stand in the ranking of top three all rounders and in the top ten ODI batsmen in the world.
A message for aspiring cricket players?
Keep working hard. There’s no shortcut to success.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would that be?
My anger. I try to control my anger as it gets out of hand at times.