“I don’t think it [captaincy in a tough period] is a burden. I am not thinking in that manner. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to lead the side,” Bangladesh’s newly-appointed T20I captain Mahmudullah Riyad said during a press conference yesterday on the eve of Bangladesh’s first T20I against India in Delhi.
Thrust into the hotseat ahead of an important challenge, Mahmudullah will be expected to carry his side through to the other side relatively unscathed at the end of the grueling challenge on offer. It is only relatively unscathed because what preceded the away series has been nothing short of jaw-dropping as Test and T20I captain Shakib Al Hasan was banned for two years, one of those suspended, after failing to report corrupt approaches from a bookie.
Mahmudullah, an experienced campaigner, handled things well during a presser where the main topic of interest was the effect that Shakib’s absence would have on the team.
He reminded those present -- both with body language and words -- that even in this tough period, he was not a novice who was caught unaware by the emergency situation. “I’ve done it [captaining the side] before in T20Is and Tests as well when Shakib was injured,” Riyad reminded. “We have to play as a team, show commitment, use our opportunities and execute our skills.”
The challenge in front of him was great and he knew it. “In India it will be different conditions and with a side like India, who have been dominating at home, it will be a challenge.”
Mahmudullah does have big shoes to fill and even in these rough times, he knows defeat will not be taken lightly. Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Shakib have spearheaded Bangladesh with their leadership skills for the past few years.
While different in the ways they get the best out of the team, both have had successful stints as captain and been exemplary leaders. Riyad talked about how his predecessors had different approaches, complimenting both, but did not shy away from stating his own plan of action.
“We have been playing together for a while,” he said when asked if his predecessors’ captaincy instincts rubbed off on him. “I think they are great leaders. Shakib has some amazing qualities and Mash has been a great motivator. I just need to step up my game and be a good leader.
“We are not taking any extra pressure due to Shakib’s absence. We are inspired to put on a good performance. It’s an opportunity for me and the rest of the players,” he added.
His presser bore similarities to Tim Paine’s, who had to inspire confidence in himself and the team after high-profile bans for captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner. Paine had then tried to stem the onset of chaos and Riyad was doing something similar.
Riyad had already shown good captaincy qualities in the BPL while leading Khulna Titans and his recent form in the domestic circuit along with his presser yesterday showed that there was a calm before the storm perhaps waiting from Bangladesh’s side as well.
“We’re very positive and have nothing to lose. We will focus on what we can gain,” he said when asked if the Tigers could rise above the crisis.