Mahmudullah means business
When he was dropped from the Bangladesh Test team for their landmark 100th Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo, Mahmudullah Riyad would never have thought that a mere 11 months later he would be substituting for an injured Shakib Al Hasan and leading Bangladesh for the first time in Tests, that too against a Sri Lanka team now coached by the same man who as then coach of Bangladesh was party to the decision to drop the right-hander.
Batting troubles in the longer version led to his axing, but Mahmudullah has been considered a good cricketing brain as early as 2011 when he was given the role of the vice-captain in 2011 and his captaincy in the domestic circuit till now has impressed many.
"It is important how you look at challenges, whether positively or not. Every day is a new challenge. There are challenges in every session of a Test match. It is better to take it one step at a time. I don't have a headache about it [on Hathurusingha's presence in the opposition dug-out]. I am thinking of giving the best service to my team. I think if we can contribute to the team, it'll be good enough," Mahmudullah told reporters when the irony of Hathurusingha now being in the opposition camp was pointed out to him after the training session at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong yesterday.
Mahmudullah was even dropped from the squad before the Colombo Test and it was revealed that the team management also wanted him to return to the country and there were thoughts of dropping him from the ODI series as well.
He however survived one of the toughest periods of his career and emerged stronger by smashing a magnificent ODI century against New Zealand, which helped Bangladesh qualify for the semifinal of the ICC Champions Trophy in England last year.
Not only Mahmudullah as captain, but the whole team will face a stiff challenge as they will have to play without Shakib, for whom it would have been the first series in his second stint as Test skipper.
"A cricketer's life is full of challenges. It is a good opportunity for me personally. More importantly, it is a crucial series for us. I didn't want it [captaincy] this way. Shakib is an important player. Losing him is a big blow. At the end of the day, we all have the opportunity to do something for the Bangladesh team. We are all very excited. Every cricketer dreams of leading their country, so definitely it is great," Mahmudullah added.
It will be a big challenge and also an opportunity to show his leadership skills in the absence of Shakib and how he approaches the crunch moments can actually put him in consideration to be the permanent captain, even if only in limited-overs cricket.
Mostly known for his friendly nature in the dressing room, when asked what his approach will be Mahmudullah said that he means business.
"I don't let anything go when I am in my business. I support my team in every way possible -- in a rude or nice way. We want to give something good to Bangladesh cricket. I personally believe you have to take a lot of big decisions, so you have to be calm. The cooler you are on the field, the easier the decision-making. So I try to stay as calm as possible, even when I am captaining at the domestic level. I want to inspire the team with my performance," he said.
When asked who the favourites are in the two-Test series, Bangladesh's 10th Test captain said: "I don't think we are favourites. They have been playing good cricket. I personally feel that we will be on top on home soil. We are without Shakib but we have a balanced side with spinners, pace bowlers and quality batsmen."