The concern regarding how to fill the gap when the team’s best player misses out on a tour or series is a perennial one. Bangladesh have travelled to Sri Lanka to play a three-match ODI series against the hosts sans star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who was granted a break by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) following the World Cup.
Bangladesh registered a five-wicket victory against Sri Lanka Board President’s XI in their warm-up match at the P Sara Oval in Colombo yesterday. While the team should be boosted by such a win ahead of the series opener on July 26, one other positive takeaway from the match was Mohammad Mithun’s sensible 100-ball 91.
Mithun batted at the number three position -- where Shakib played throughout the World Cup. And the right-hander did not disappoint, scoring a team high 91 while stitching together two important partnerships -- a 73-run stand for the third-wicket with Mushfiqur Rahim followed by a 96-run fourth-wicket stand with Mahmudullah Riyad -- to guide the Tigers to a comfortable victory.
While speaking to reporters after the game, Mithun said that he never let his mind get carried away with the fact that he was batting in Shakib’s place but rather just tried to do what came naturally.
“Actually I did not think anything like I am batting at number three position -- the place where Shakib [Al Hasan] bhai bats. As Shakib bhai is not in the squad, someone needs to bat in that position. Normally, it is the responsibility of the players who bat at the top to play long innings and I tried to do that,” said Mithun.
Shakib has been phenomenal recently and was clearly Bangladesh’s top performer in the recently concluded World Cup. The all-rounder finished third in the top run-getters’ list in the mega event with 606 runs from eight matches. To undertake a series without the ace all-rounder must have hampered the team’s balance. However, Mithun’s positive display in yesterday’s practice match must have given some hope to the team, who are surely looking to find their rhythm after a dismal World Cup.
Mithun, however, mentioned that they still need to play their best cricket on the day to start the series on a positive note.
“I played two matches for the A team before coming here. So I think it helped me adjust to the condition as I think the temperature here is a bit less than of Bangladesh. So it helped me but it’s not the same for everyone though,” Mithun said. “A win is always helpful for a team. Obviously we will be feeling a bit better in terms of confidence but still we need to play our best cricket again on the day -- on July 26 -- if we want to win.