ODI World Cup 2023: Mahmudullah dedicates ton against South Africa to those who supported him

Mahmudullah saved Bangladesh from a huge defeat by scoring his fourth ODI hundred and first one after six years.

Published : Oct 24, 2023 23:28 IST , MUMBAI - 3 MINS READ

Mahmudullah in action during the ICC Cricket World Cup Match between South Africa and Bangladesh.
Mahmudullah in action during the ICC Cricket World Cup Match between South Africa and Bangladesh. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/The Hindu

Mahmudullah in action during the ICC Cricket World Cup Match between South Africa and Bangladesh. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/The Hindu

Mahmudullah comes across as a soft-spoken cricketer, who loves keeping a low profile. But when he walks out to bat, donning the Bangladesh colours, he lets his willow do the talking.

Tuesday evening at the Wankhede Stadium was one such occasion. After South Africa put up a mammoth 382 for five, Bangladesh was reeling at 58 for five in 15 overs when Mahmudullah walked out to bat.

A huge defeat loomed large as wickets tumbled on the other end. But Mahmudullah, batting at No. 6 - which isn’t his ideal position - stood firm and went on to score a classy hundred. Though it wasn’t enough to save the team from a defeat, Mahmudullah was happy to have scored his fourth ODI century - after six long years.

READ MORE | De Kock powers South Africa to huge win over Bangladesh

The build-up to the World Cup wasn’t perfect as Mahmudullah was in and out of the squad until a few months ago. But as the national selectors picked the squad for the marquee event, they could not look beyond the seasoned campaigner.

However, soon after scoring a century, Mahmudullah said, “There’s a lot I want to say, but this is not the right time, not the right platform…”

As a packed media room eagerly waited for him to explain further, the all-rounder smiled sheepishly and said, “It would have felt good had my century helped the team win the game. But I am okay with the batting order… I have seen a lot of this in my life, so I am used to it…”

Just a few days before the team left for India last month, Tamim Iqbal was left out of the Bangladesh squad for the World Cup after allegedly falling out with captain Shakib Al Hasan.

“I can’t make comments on those things. Whatever happened, happened. But now, we can try to win games for Bangladesh, we are trying but it’s not happening,” Mahmudullah said, adding, “If we win one game, you will see a different Bangladesh…”

Four consecutive defeats have made the road to the semifinals difficult for Bangladesh, but Mahmudullah wants to take it one game at a time. “There’s no point thinking too far ahead about the semifinals. We need to think about batting, bowling and execute our plans better,” he said.

After scoring his century, Mahmudullah jumped up in the air, raised his bat towards the dressing room - a celebration that’s quite uncharacteristic of him. But he wasn’t willing to read between the lines.

“It just happened. I did not think of reaching a hundred, but I was just happy,” he said. “I dedicate the ton to my family, and to those who supported me over the last three months…”

While he was happy with a personal milestone, Mahmudullah would have been happier had his century benefited the team.

“I told Mustafizur to hang in there because had we lost wickets cheaply, then it would have affected our Net Run Rate further. I just wanted to dig deep and hang in there,” he said, adding, “I thought 320-330 could have been chased. No one wants to lose, so it is disappointing. Early on, we lost wickets and could not recover…”

Asked whether his century was a message to his critics, Mahmudullah smiled and said, “I thank whoever stood by me in the past, and also thank those who didn’t…”

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