Bangladesh middle-order batsman Mahmudullah. Photo: ICC
Mahmudullah, the Bangladesh middle-order batsman, stressed the need for his team-mates to improve with the bat, even as he lauded the bowlers for keeping the side alive going into their final Super Four match in the Asia Cup 2018.
Having lost their first Super Four game against India, Bangladesh needed victory against Afghanistan in their second outing to keep alive their chances of making it to the final.
Their batsmen struggled, though, and were reduced to 87/5 at one point before Imrul Kayes and Mahmudullah scored 70s to set Afghanistan a 250-run target. Their bowlers then chipped away in a nervy chase, and kept Afghanistan to three runs of the target.
Heading into their virtual semi-final against Pakistan on Wednesday, 26 September, Mahmudullah urged the need for improvement. “We still need to work on few areas,” he said. “I will give full credit to our bowling department, but there are few areas to work on in our batting, especially at the start and top order.
“There are areas we can still improve on. Our middle-order is fine, the top-order needs to click.”
The top-order wobbles meant Mahmudullah was in a position to steer the team out of a crisis – he said he wouldn’t prefer it another way. "Yes, I do (enjoy being the crisis man),” he said. “The pressure gives me the opportunity to get into my rhythm and give back to my team as well.
“Pressure will always be there and we just need to find out ways to handle it, that's all.”
Mahmudullah was also impressive in his handling of Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s premier leg-spinner. He didn’t succumb to pressure, and even clubbed two sixes against the No.2-ranked bowlers in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Player Rankings.
“I didn't work too much (on his variations). We played three times in four days, so there wasn't much time to think,” said Mahmudullah. “I was just playing with an empty mind. We all know that Rashid Khan is one of the best strike bowlers around the world. That does not mean however that he is unplayable.”