Towhid Hridoy, the Bangladesh U19 phenomenon set to take on England
As World Cup preparations intensify, England are set to travel to Bangladesh, where they may come up against 22-year-old Towhid Hridoy, who earned his maiden call-up for this series.
He has 1,547 List A runs at an average of 45.50 and a strike rate of 80, and bowls off-breaks as well. He demanded selection through a stellar Bangladesh Premier League season, in which he amassed 403 runs for the Sylhet Strikers and was the competition’s third-highest run scorer.
The story of Towhid Hridoy is one of resilience. Picking himself up from various setbacks in his short career and coming back stronger.
To understand his bouncebackability, we return to the 2022 BPL final on 18th February 2022.
Three required from the final ball, Hridoy on strike. Then 21, he hits straight to a fielder. His partner is run out, and he is left unbeaten on nine off nine balls. His team, the Fortune Barishal, left an agonisingly one run short.
A year on, he scored 267 more runs and raised his strike rate by 43 over the course of the season. This year’s final would have been just as disappointing when he was bowled by Tanvir Islam for a duck.
Although if the improvement after his previous heartbreak in the final is anything to go by, he will be back stronger.
There have been other setbacks, and twice he considered giving up the game entirely. First, because of a fraudulent cricket academy; and then a period of bad form.
Once Hridoy had decided he wanted to pursue cricket, he needed an academy and, more importantly, money from his parents. While his father took some persuading, his mother saw his determination and mortgaged the house to fund her son’s dreams.
Only for this to come crashing down, he recalled: “It was [sic] fake academy and I lost my money and after returning home I decided not to continue playing anymore.”
So vital to making it in professional sport is being seen at the right time. Fortunately for Hridoy, a coach watched him play and picked him for the under-16 division before promoting him to the under-18s.
Once more his career was threatened: “I failed to perform at under-18 level and again thought I didn’t want to play anymore.”
Then he was introduced to one of two former Bangladesh captains, who helped forge his career with inspiration and guidance.
Khaled Mahmud Sujon played 89 times for his country and was a BCB Board director and coach at the Bangla Trac Cricket Academy when, impressed by Hridoy’s talent, gave him a chance.
“To be honest if I had not gotten the chance in Sujon Sir’s team I wouldn’t have come so far. What he did for me was the turning point of my career,” he reflected.
The second influence is Mushfiqur Rahim, who will be a teammate in the upcoming England series. Both men hail from Bogra, a town in Bangladesh. They were also teammates in the Bangladesh Premier League, combining for an unbeaten partnership of 111 off 57 balls against the Rangpur Riders.
A measure of the relationship is the amount of bats Hridoy has got from Mushfiqur: “It gives me confidence like in 2017 he gave me a bat and I hit seven sixes with it and from that point I had the confidence that I can hit sixes. Two days before BPL, he gave me a bat and I played my whole BPL with it.”
This series is undoubtedly about gearing toward the World Cup later this year in India. Bangladesh are a strong ODI side; they seldom lose at home; they have comfortably qualified for the World Cup and have had victories over South Africa, the West Indies and India in the last 12 months.
Despite beating India 2-1 at home, their batting order struggled. Mehidy Hasan Miraz scored a brilliant 100 to post 271 in the second ODI after steering his side home with 38 not out in a tricky chase of 186 in the first.
Their proficiency in subcontinent conditions and the spark they might get from the talented young Towhid Hridoy – who was part of the triumphant 2020 Under-19 World Cup campaign – may propel them firmly into the dark horse conversation for the World Cup.