Mahmudul Hasan Joy – Entering the record books with a smile

Bangladesh’s new batting prodigy, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, has an infectious smile. Whether he is playing numerous dot balls or when he comes up with an eye soothing cover drive, his smile is always there. And the 21-year-old right-hander kept on smiling as he became the first Bangladesh player to score a Test hundred against South Africa. Mahmudul celebrated his milestone with a punch in the air and a leap after picking up two off Keshav Maharaj, much to the delight of those present in the Bangladesh dressing room as they got on their feet to acknowledge his effort.

Mahmudul had already proved his Test match readiness during his maiden half century against New Zealand at Mount Maunganui but at Kingsmead, he just proved he belongs at this level, notching up his maiden Test hundred in only his third game. The kind of application displayed by Mahmudul and the ease with which he could switch gears, considering his aggressive brand of cricket in the Bangladesh Premier League, is a huge plus for the team and the individual.

Joy put on a classy yet patient display of batting, stitching crucial partnerships with the lower middle-order after putting on 82 for the fifth wicket with Liton Das. It showed the amount of maturity he possessed in the middle. There were times when he was troubled but he did not lose his patience and stuck to his game plan, adding 33 with Yasir Ali and 51 with Mehidy Hasan to bring down the deficit.

“Today’s innings was of patience and great gameplan. He stuck to what he knows. He didn’t try to play any expansive shots that weren’t in his repertoire. We are really proud of the way he batted. Batting through the whole innings is special for Bangladesh. I am not sure there have been many better innings for Bangladesh in Test cricket,” beamed batting coach Jamie Siddons after the second day’s play.

“Things might have fallen into place for him with the spinners having to bowl most of the afternoon yesterday. There were only ten overs of new-ball bowling. You rarely see his levels of patience from our batsmen. There’s always some loose batting,” said Siddons. “Joy manipulated the field quite well. He hit over the top when the field was up. When they put a fielder back, he knocked it for one. He believed he could bat for six hours.”

Joy, who was dropped on 64 at short leg by Sarel Erwee of Simon Harmer, changed his gears only after facing 309 balls that fetched him 110 runs, as he scored his next 27 runs from 17 balls that included a six off Simon Harmer along with four boundaries in an eventful over bowled by Wiaan Mulder. Joy, who scored 137 off 326 balls that included 15 fours and two sixes and batted for more than seven hours, was that last man to get out as he was removed by debutant Lizaad Williams when he edged to Simon Harmer at slip.

Sazzad Ahmed, Bangladesh’s junior level selector who picked Joy during a camp of the Under-15’s, is well aware of his batting philosophy, and he told Cricbuzz that he was not surprised to see him making runs on his own terms. “To be honest his game plan is very simple and it remained the same from his childhood till now. He will wait for the loose ball and only when it is pitched in his zone he will go after it. The cover drive is one of his favourite shots but he refrained from playing that initially and only played it when he was well set.

“Joy is well aware about his limitations, and the other one is that he is very confident about his defence. He does not have a hero like mentality – like trying to prove anything to anyone or playing for the gallery – and only concentrates on fulfilling his responsibility,” noted Sazzad.

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