When it comes to standing up in moments of crisis, Mahmudullah Riyad is one name in Bangladesh cricket who has done it more often than not and he has done it not just with bat or ball in hand, but also as a leader.
In March 2017, he was dropped from the team for the second Test in Sri Lanka -- Bangladesh's landmark 100th Test match -- and Bangladesh went on to win that landmark match without Mahmudullah.
As fate would have it, Mahmudullah was then handed the vice-captaincy for the second time -- the first being in 2011 -- and it was Sri Lanka he was faced with when he had to step up in the absence of injured Test and T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan, taking the Test reins for the first time in the two-match series earlier this year. It was a moment of crisis as Shakib had injured himself in the tri-series final against Sri Lanka less than a week before the first Test started in February.
He also led the team in the ensuing two-T20I series and in three Nidahas Trophy games in Sri Lanka in March, before Shakib returned to the side.
This time, however, Shakib's absence was known for some time and Mahmudullah has had enough time to prepare himself mentally to lead the Tigers in the two-Test series against Zimbabwe, with the first starting from today at the Sylhet International Stadium.
“Captaincy always excites me as I always try to enjoy the responsibility. I have been captaining in the domestic circuit for some time now and everyone in the team helps me, so I am looking forward to playing well. I can say that the responsibility has a huge impact on my game and it challenges me to give my best. I think it also helps me in my game,” Mahmudullah said when asked about the captaincy during the pre-match press conference yesterday.
Mahmudullah has a lot of captaincy experience in the domestic circuit to draw from, be it for Khulna Titans in the Bangladesh Premier league -- where he set a standard of leading from the front -- or the Dhaka Premier League.
Highly respected and loved by teammates, captain Mahmudullah's mantra is to provide freedom to the players to express themselves.
“I have always tried to provide the freedom to the players, which is very important. When you give the players freedom it allows them to give their best from their respective positions and I have always given importance to this aspect.
“At times, captaincy depends on gut feeling but sometimes the gut feeling might not work. At times the situation demands something different and you have to act according to that,” he added.
A natural leader, Mahmudullah will have the scope in this series to show his true credentials as a Test captain and perhaps even throw his hat into the ring as a candidate to be the first-choice captain in the future.