SA Vs BAN: Rahul Dravid-Fan Mahmudul Hasan Joy Key To Bangladesh's Fortunes In Second Test At Port Elizabeth

Bangladesh are trailing in the two-Test series against South Africa, who won the first Test at Durban by 220 runs. Second Test starts April 8.

Mahmudul Hasan Joy is the first Bangladesh player to hit a Test century against South Africa.

A 21-year-old Mahmudul Hasan Joy, who hit the headlines with his gritty 137-run knock in Bangladesh’s recently-concluded first Test against South Africa, will have to do an encore if Bangladesh hope to level the two-Test series in Port Elizabeth (renamed Gqeberha) starting Friday.

In the 20-year-old Test history between the two sides, a 77 by Bangladesh Test skipper Mominul Haque was the highest individual score by a batsman from the country against the Proteas in a Test match, until a resolute Mahmudul Hasan Joy decided to write a new chapter in the history of Bangladesh cricket at Kingsmead, Durban on April 2, 2022. 

Mahmudul's historic feat last week saw him standing at the crease for more than seven hours. No wonder his idol is legendary batsman and now the head coach of Indian men’s team - Rahul Dravid. At a teenage, Mahmudul earned the nickname ‘The Wall’ in the U-19 Bangladesh dressing room. In Durban, even though Bangladesh lost by 220 runs, Mahmudul proved he was a special player. 

"It was something really special for Bangladesh and I'm not sure there has been any better innings by a Bangladesh batsman in Test cricket," said Jamie Siddons, Bangladesh’s batting coach, praising Mahmudul's innings at Kingsmead.

"The innings was one of patience and a great game plan. He didn't try to play any expansive shots that weren't in his repertoire and we're all really proud of the way he went about it.

"He manipulated the field quite well. He hit over the top when the field was up and when they put a few at the back he knocked it for one. He was waiting for the bad ball and believing he could bat for six hours," added Siddons

History reveals that Bangladesh players are infamous for throwing matches from advantageous positions. However, their playing style and confidence have changed over the years now. Bangladesh will have to show a lot of conviction at Port Elizabeth where South Africa have lost their last two matches at St George's Park, to England and Sri Lanka.

Bangladesh won a historic ODI series in South Africa. However, the Tigers were not able to carry that momentum in the Tests. The senior players can take a lead out of Mahmudul's book in PE.

In three Test matches, Mahmudul has scored 225 runs, averaging 45. If anyone failed to notice, Mahmudul had also scored a gritty 78 in Bangladesh’s famous first-ever Test win over New Zealand this year after staying for almost six hours at the crease.

And for the cricket aficionados, yes, Mahmudul Hasan Joy is the same player who had scored a match-winning hundred against New Zealand at the 2020 U-19 World Cup to help Bangladesh enter their first-ever final in the tournament history. The baby Bangla Tigers had eventually won their maiden title by defeating India by three wickets in the summit clash.

Mahmudul hails from Bangladesh‘s Faridgunj. His father is a banker. However, it was his uncle who played a big role in shaping his cricket career. 

Given that Mahmudul has some great understanding of the game at such a starting phase of his international cricket career, he definitely has a lot to offer to Bangladesh in the upcoming years. For now, all attention will be on how and his teammates perform in the second Test at PE.