Home ›› 19 Mar 2023 ›› Sport
Mushfiqur Rahim had handed him his first-ever One-Day International cap. When he came out to bat, with the team at 81-3, his bat had no sticker but a sign was visible, ‘MR15’.
That is the tell-tale of Mushfiq, and Towhid Hridoy was batting with the bat of the veteran. And with that bat, he scored the highest-ever on debut amongst Bangladesh batters and just missed out on a maiden ton.
His innings of 92 came off 85 balls, hitting eight fours and a couple of sixes before falling to Graham Hume in the 46th over with a strike rate of 108.
However, the sum he amassed is not the most impressive bit of his innings on Saturday, it was his batting display that was sublime.
It never looked like it was Towhid’s debut. When he came into the crease, Bangladesh were just sliding a bit, losing the in-form Najmul Hossain Shanto following the already departed openers.
And when he came in, even Shakib Al Hasan was struggling a bit, finding it difficult to score smoothly. Yet, Towhid looked like a veteran, getting his first runs in ODIs through a boundary from a nice flick down to fine leg, and never looked even a bit phased as he slowly put together the Bangladesh innings together with Shakib.
He brought up his fifty off 55 balls and kept going. One of his shots was the highlight of his brilliant knock – his six off Hume in the final ball of the 38th over.
The ball was on the shorter side, and the youngster just stood his ground and produced a short-arm jab, sending the ball for a maximum straight down the ground.
There was a lot of pressure on Towhid coming into this match. He had a good outing in the Twenty20 International series against England but in this series, he got into the XI in place of Mahmudullah Riyad, who was rested and is under the cosh due to his recent poor form.
While Mahmudullah is yet set to continue, the Bangladesh management wanted to test the waters outside the immediate XI by giving opportunities to players such as Towhid.
“They can just play with the freedom with which they play local cricket. We have seen what they can do in local tournaments, which is how we pick them. Their performance and ability to bat a certain way, their records against pace and spin. We are giving them mental confidence so that they can do it at the international level. We are looking at who has that character to do the role at the international level,” Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe said before the first ODI.
And it looks like Towhid, at least for now, has passed the eye test. And in a World Cup year, the youngster might turn out to be very, very valuable, regardless of the situation with Mahmudullah.
Towhid will look to make best of his opportunities in this series, and Bangladesh will hope that he does continue running on the purple patch he is on.