Hridoy delivers on the promise of 2023

Towhid Hridoy brings up his half-century BCB

It is not that Comilla Victorians would have lost out on any strength if they had continued with an identical set-up to their 2023 title-winning side. When they signed Towhid Hridoy midway through 2023, Bangladesh's most improved cricketer not only had to live up to his previous season with Sylhet Strikers but ensure none of that quality dropped off when playing for the BPL's most successful team.

Hridoy certainly hasn't disappointed anyone this season, except the opposition bowlers. In his last seven innings, he has scored 305 runs, including his maiden T20 century, against Durdanto Dhaka.

His superb 64 in the first qualifier against Rangpur Riders helped him cross his 407-run tally from 2023. With 447 runs, he is currently the leading run-getter this season, slightly ahead of Tamim Iqbal. Such was the attractiveness of Hridoy's innings against Rangpur that it impressed even Litton Das, Bangladesh's most elegant batter.

Litton himself scored 83 as the pair added 143 in 14.5 overs after Sunil Narine fell on the first ball of the chase. Comilla, who otherwise rely a lot on their overseas batters, chased down 186 with six wickets and nine balls to spare.

"It was certainly an outstanding effort," Litton said. "I think this is the best partnership I have batted in, in my life. He batted amazingly. He was great to watch from the non-striker's end. He relieved me from all the pressure, which is ideally what a batting partner is supposed to do. We rarely chase such big runs. It is certainly great that two Bangladesh players have done it. I hope we can continue in this way."

Litton said that Hridoy's great quality is his ability to attack deliveries on the stumps, which he believes is the hallmark of successful batters.

"He can hit the good ball for a six, which is rare among batters from our country. He hits the ball that's on the wicket, which is what most good batters do. All successful players around the world play well against the delivery that's on the stumps. It is his biggest plus.

"He can look small but he hits them big. From what I can see up close, he thinks about cricket. He is very hard-working. He is always in the gym, always working on something."

Narine's wicket didn't deter Hridoy or Litton. They kept an attacking mindset, particularly when Hridoy took 22 off a Hasan Mahmud over in the powerplay. According to Litton, that over turned the match in their favour.

"They had Fazalhaq [Farooqi] and Shakib bhai as their new-ball bowlers," he said. "Both are wicket-taking bowlers but Hridoy played his game. He charged both Fazalhaq and Shakib bhai. I played a different game. I knew that their main strength was Shakib bhai, so I didn't want to expose Moeen bhai too early. It would bring offspinners like Shak Mahedi [Hasan] and [Mohammad] Nabi bhai. I wanted to have two right-handers at the crease for as long as possible.

"We turned the game in the fifth over. We knew they didn't have good death bowlers. Hasan got hit in his first over, so he was on the back foot. I think these things contributed to our approach."

Litton said they decided to field first as they were without their best death bowler, Mustafizur Rahman, who suffered a head injury during training in Chattogram last week.

"We were without Mustafiz so I knew we would be under pressure while defending a total," he said. "That's why I decided to field first. We had two relatively new fast bowlers. We wanted to chase as we have a strong batting line-up."

Comilla are hoping Mustafizur returns for the final. But they will also bank on Hridoy carrying his form with the bat. After a breakout 2023, he has shown consistency this season as well, a rarity among young Bangladeshi batters.