Liton comes of age
Liton Das seems to have finally found his mojo and gotten a grip of the demands of international cricket after a series of disappointments, despite always having shown promise and scored tons of runs in domestic cricket.
Liton's 19-ball 43, after being sent to open the innings, gave Bangladesh the perfect platform to launch their historic successful chase of 215 against Sri Lanka on Saturday. By the looks of his ever-growing confidence, this innings will likely exorcise some of the demons that haunted the 23-year-old batsman over the past two-and-a-half years.
The wicketkeeper-batsman, regarded by many as the heir apparent to Mushfiqur Rahim, was always one to look out for even during his age-level days.
The former BKSP student played two consecutive Under-19 World Cups in 2010 and 2012. He came back from the 2014 edition and scored heavily for Abahani in the Dhaka Premier League, pushing the doors of the national team before eventually making his Test debut against India in 2015. His sound technique and free-flowing bat swings during his 44 in the first innings at Fatullah caught the eyes of all who had not watched this prodigy before.
His introduction to shorter versions did not take long as Liton made his ODI debut in the same month against the same opposition, scoring a couple of promising thirties before making his T20I debut against South Africa in the following series.
Liton looked so impressive with his technique and style that then coach Chandika Hathurusingha rated him as a fine prospect.
However, it did not take long for Liton to see the other side of the coin as he failed to utilise opportunities through a series of disappointments. There was talk that Liton should come out of club cricket mentality to sustain progress in international cricket, but his continued failures eventually forced selectors to drop him from the national team in all three formats.
Liton's rise and fall in international cricket happened in space of less than six months.
At one point, a mentally depressed Liton kept himself away from social gatherings to avoid facing criticism for not proving his worth in the national team despite getting enough opportunities.
He went back to the drawing board to prepare himself, to know his ability and potential and more importantly to execute his skills with a broader frame of mind. In spite of failing at the domestic front too, the elegant batsman made sure he flourished with a magnificent double-hundred for East Zone against Central Zone in the Bangladesh Cricket League in early 2017.
The fine form in domestic cricket earned him a call back to the Test side in Sri Lanka in 2017 in Galle, but he missed out on the Tigers' memorable 100th Test match. However, it was his composed 70-run knock in the second Test against South Africa at Bloemfontein that earned him back some confidence.
The growing confidence was further bolstered by a 94-run knock in the second innings of the first Test against Sri Lanka earlier this year. And runs started to come freely, this time on the international front, culminating in the exquisitely dominant performance on Saturday.
The soft-spoken batsman, however, declined to read too much into the innings, rather attributing it more to luck.
"Cricket is a game of luck," Liton said while waiting outside the team hotel in Colombo yesterday. "I haven't played that well previously and started to get the flow and am heading towards a better position. I think these ups and downs will remain in cricket and you have to adjust with it."
When asked whether it was about rediscovering himself as an opener, Liton said: "No, I didn't think like that as I have opened the innings previously. What I needed was a good start."