Is the Mahmudullah chapter coming to an end?

A ‘pre-series camp’ with 26 cricketers began in Dhaka on Monday. Mahmudullah was not named for the camp.

MahmudullahProthom Alo

Young batters Afif Hossain and Shamim Hossain were seen batting in the indoor nets at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Monday. Both were not part of the national team’s recently concluded series against Ireland and took part in the Dhaka Premier League (DPL) instead.

In the past, both Afif and Shamim have played as finishers in the Bangladesh team. On Monday, both were called up in the national team’s ‘pre-series camp’ ahead of the Afghanistan series. Seeing them bat, a question naturally came to mind, “Afif and Shamim are here, so why is Mahmudullah not here?”

Opener Mohammad Naim was another player called up in the camp who is not currently part of the national team in any format. Naim last played for the Tigers in August 2022 against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup. A total of 26 cricketers have been called up in the camp which included almost all cricketers who are either currently a part of the national team or are in its periphery. But Mahmudullah was not a part of this sizable selection of cricketers.

In the latest DPL, Mahmudullah came out to bat 15 times in 16 matches. He amassed 510 runs at an average of 36.42 and a strike rate of 87.17, which are not bad numbers for a middle-order batsman. Still, why wasn’t he considered in the 26-member squad for the camp? Not getting included in a training camp in the year of the World Cup, does this signify the end of the road for Mahmudullah in the Bangladesh team?

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While trying to search for answers to these questions, it was found that Mahmudullah has taken leave for the Hajj pilgrimage. His leave spans from 22 June to 5 July. And the series against Afghanistan will begin on 5 July, which makes it unlikely for Mahmudullah to take part in the home series.

“Riyad (Mahmudullah) asked for a leave for Hajj. He will be in Hajj pilgrimage from 22 June to 5 July. After that he will join the camp. So, he can’t play in the ODI series because the first match will take place on the 5th,” said BCB cricket operations chairman Jalal Yunus.

Mahmudullah is only playing in white-ball cricket
Shamsul Hoque

But the national team is going ahead with Mahmudullah in the rearview mirror. Mahmudullah has retired from Tests and only plays white-ball cricket. Since last year’s Asia Cup, which was played in the T20 format, he hasn’t been in consideration for the shortest format of the game. Since the home series against England in February, he is also not a part of the ODI team.

Bangladesh played two ODI series’ against Ireland without Mahmudullah and won both of them. In those series, the experienced Mushfiqur Rahim batted at Mahmudullah’s slot, No.6, and scored 286 runs at a strike rate of 120.

With Mushfiq batting at No.6, the young Towhid Hridoy got an opportunity to bat at No.5 and he grabbed that chance with both hands. Towhid scored 249 runs in five innings at No.5 at a strike rate of 111.

Towhid Hridoy has grabbed his opportunity with both hands in the ODI team

Mushfiq and Towhid’s brilliant form has so far denied Yasir Ali a chance to bat in the middle order. Moreover, Afif’s performance in the DPL was also eye catching to say the least. In 13 innings, Afif hit one century and four half-centuries to score 550 runs and he scored those runs at an elevated strike rate of 110.

All in all, Mahmudullah’s return to the national team is looking increasingly unlikely. However, there are many who are hopeful that this experienced cricketer will play in the ODI World Cup in India, which is set to take place later this year.

Before the home series against Ireland, Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusingha had asked Mahmudullah for his future plans. In reply, Mahmudullah told the coach that he intends to play in the World Cup.

Will Mahmudullah’s hopes come true?