Liton’s steady hands make the difference
The situation required a steady hand and Liton Das answered the call, stepping out of his comfort zone and compromising his natural stroke-making ability for a calmer approach. The right-hander, making a comeback to the ODI side, struck a well-paced century at a crucial stage to help a struggling Bangladesh post a fighting total of 276 for nine in the first ODI against Zimbabwe yesterday.
Liton, who lost his place in the third and final ODI against Sri Lanka in the previous series following a string of poor performances over his last eight games, realised the importance of his wicket when the Tigers needed it most.
The 26-year-old was ultimately dismissed for a 114-ball 102, which included eight fours, but not before recording his fourth ODI ton, three of which have come against Zimbabwe.
After being asked to bat on a greenish Harare pitch that offered purchase to seamers, Bangladesh were struggling at 74 for four, having lost skipper Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Mithun and Mosaddek Hossain inside 14 overs.
Considering the demands of the situation, Liton stepped away from his usual batting style and adopted a rather a different approach. It took him ten balls to open his account and he only struck his first boundary in the 15th over of the innings as partners kept departing.
He reached his fifty off 78 balls -- his slowest fifty in ODIs -- but managed to accelerate his strike rate as the innings progressed.
The visitors desperately needed a partnership to post a challenging total, which was when Liton found Mahmudullah and the pair added 93 for the fifth wicket, mostly relying on singles and doubles. Although Mahmudullah departed after scoring 33, Liton then paired with Afif Hossain and looked to take the visitors to a comfortable position.
The right-hander also stamped his mark with two delightful pull shots to Tendai Chatara to reach his century off 110 balls. He was dismissed in the 42nd over the innings while going for a pull to Richard Ngarava, which was top-edged to the fielder at the backward square-leg region.
Afif and Mehedi Hasan Miraz's late blows helped Bangladesh capitalise on the momentum created by Liton as Bangladesh added 48 off the last five overs.
For Liton, it was an opportunity to show his consistency after scoring 95 in the lone Test against Zimbabwe and the right-hander has did that when the Tigers needed it most.