Mahmudullah making his way back into the T20 squad

Mahmudullah is playing for Fortune Barishal in this year's BPLProthom Alo

The deadline to announce the 15-member squad for the T20 International World Cup ends 1 May. There is no obligation from the International Cricket Council (ICC) to declare the primary squad before that. However, any changes to the squad declared on 1 May must be made by 25 May. The World Cup to be held in West Indies and USA starts 1 June.

Although there is no obligation from the ICC to declare any primary squad, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) selection panel has finalised a likely squad considering the lengthy process to get US visas.

According to reliable sources, Mahmudullah Riyad has also been included in the 30-member squad at the last moment. The 15-member squad will be selected from these 30 players.

The former skipper of the shortest format has not been selected in the Bangladesh T20 squad for the last one and half years. He played for the Tigers in the T20 format for the last time in the T20 Asia Cup held in UAE. The selectors have been citing his bad form, fitness and the team combination as the reasons behind dropping him from the squad. He was not in the consideration of the selection panel led by Minhazul Abedin even before the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).

However, Mahmudullah probably had thought differently. He has been playing superb for Barishal Fortune in the BPL. He made a scintillating 51 from just 24 balls in the last match against Sylhet Strikers Tuesday. He also played a big part in his side’s victory in the first match in the tournament against Rangpur Riders with a handy innings of 19 from 11 balls not out. So far Mahmudullah has scored some 104 runs in total in the tournament at a strike rate of 165.07 from five matches, including two not out innings.

Such a performance from the ousted formed T20 skipper has forced the selectors to change their mind. Although it’s not sure whether he will be included in the final 15-member squad, he has secured a place in the primary list of 30 players.

Chief selector Minhazul Abedin, however, didn’t want to make any comment regarding the possibility of selecting Mahmudullah for the World Cup squad right now.

Mahmudullah is playing at a strike rate of 167.07 in the BPL
Prothom Alo

Speaking to Prothom Alo over the phone Wednesday, he said, “The time has not come yet to speak about who is to be included in the squad and who is to be dropped. Still there are many more matches ahead. We have our eyes on every player.”

Another member of the selection panel Habibul Bashar also reiterated Minhazul Abedin. However, he was positive Towards Mahmudullah this time.

He said, “Mahmudullah’s physical condition is not like it was in 2021. He is fitter now and playing brilliantly as well. However, all the players playing well are under our consideration for the World Cup squad”

Speaking to the newspersons on Wednesday, BCB cricket operations chairman Jalal Yunus took a more direct approach saying, “What can I say? Riyadh (Madmudullah) has been brilliant throughout the tournament. He had an excellent strike rate in the T20 World Cup, which is enough to be in the T20I squad. And now he is proving his worth. He is an automatic choice in his position.”

Later, he told Prothom Alo over the phone that, “It is the selectors who will finalise the squad. However, Mahmudullah is playing brilliantly in the BPL and in a good condition in terms of fitness. If he can maintain that, I believe he will be in the World Cup squad.”

He said Mahmudullah’s age would not matter if he performs well and remains fit.

Mahmudullah played a scintillating innings of 51 not out just from 24 ball during his sides match against Sylhet Strikers
Courtesy of Fortune Barishal

Now everything depends on Mahmudullah. He has to play well in the remaining matches. After that Bangladesh will play two T20 matches at home against Sri Lanka. Besides, one or two T20I matches are likely to be held before final declaration of the squad on 1 May. Mahmudullah’s final test will be those T20I matches.