Towhid Hridoy 2.0 taking BPL by storm
18 February 2022. Fortune Barishal and Comilla Victorians faced off in the final of the eighth Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) in Dhaka.
The match went down to the final over with Barishal, already seven wickets down, requiring 10 off the last six balls. At the striker’s end stood young batter Towhid Hridoy. For Comilla, local pacer Shohidul Islam came charging in to defend the runs.
All Towhid needed to do, was just hit one boundary to swing the momentum of the match. In the over, Towhid was on strike for five legal deliveries and also during a wide ball. He also got dropped once.
Still, Towhid failed to hit that decisive boundary and in the end, Barishal suffered an agonising one-run defeat.
That performance from Towhid only added to his reputation as a batter unsuited for the shortest format of the game.
Towhid had a miserable time with the bat in BPL 2022. The right-hander batted in 10 games and accumulated just 136 runs with the highest score of 31 at an abysmal strike rate of 97.84.
His performance in age-level cricket and other domestic four-day and 50-over competitions showed that the Under-19 World Cup winner possessed all the tools required to succeed in Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODI). But Twenty20s just wasn’t his cup of tea.
Everyone was ready to write off Towhid from T20s, other than Towhid himself.
11 months later, the 2023 edition of the BPL rolled along. Towhid was this time picked by the Mashrafe Bin Mortaza-led Sylhet Strikers.
Towhid was one of Sylhet’s first picks in the draft as the franchise preferred him over other local batters with a better record in the tournament, a decision that raised some eyebrows.
The reason behind their decision became evident as soon as Towhid stepped out into the middle with a bat in hand for the first time against his old team Fortune Barishal.
The 22-year-old had a visibly higher backlift, more in line with the demands of the format. In just the fifth ball he faced, he hit a towering six against the bowling of national team all-rounder Mehidy Hasan Miraz, exemplifying his newfound confidence.
He went on to hit seven more boundaries in that innings and started the season with a half-century.
Towhid didn’t just stop there. The cricketer from Bogura then hit a 56 off 37 balls innings against Comilla Victorians and smashed 54 off just 46 balls against Dhaka Dominators in the next two games.
Towhid started the newest edition of BPL with a hattrick of fifties and three consecutive player of the match trophies. He hit 15 fours and 10 sixes in his first three innings and got a considerable head-start in the highest run-getter race.
However, an injury on his fingers while fielding during the Dhaka match kept him on the sidelines for Sylhet’s next two matches.
He returned to the team after healing. But the break in play seemingly ruined his excellent form, as he came up with scores of 4, 0 and 15 after his return.
But thankfully for Sylhet, Towhid regained his groove on Monday against Khulna Tigers.
Towhid opened the innings, faced 49 deliveries from which he scored 74 runs with the help of nine fours.
His fourth half-century, the most by a batsman in the ongoing edition, won him his fourth player of the match award.
With that innings, Towhid broke into the top five of the highest run-getters list despite playing fewer games and his average of 41.14 is the sixth-best among batsmen who have made at least 250 runs.
His strike rate of 149.22 has been a revelation compared to his last year’s strike rate, which was below 100.
In less than a year, Towhid has transformed himself into an exciting T20 prospect for the Tigers.
Towhid will get further chances to improve his already impressive stats this year as Sylhet still have four group-phase matches to go and have already qualified for the knock-out stage.
Performances in the BPL could potentially open up the national team’s door for Towhid for the forthcoming home series against England in March.
The Tigers are set to play a three-match ODI series and three T20Is against the English team. Going by Towhid’s blazing form, it would be shocking if he doesn’t get the nod for the T20s if not both series.
Towhid has long been thought of as the future of Bangladesh cricket in ODIs and Tests. And after his performance at the BPL, he is now in the conversation of becoming the country’s next all-format cricketer.