In this series, we take a closer look at the under-19 World Cup winners and see how they could fare in international cricket
His dreams were shattered when he got injured and had to return home in the middle of the World Cup campaign. It broke his heart to watch his teammates lifting the World Cup trophy on the TV screen. But Mrittunjoy Chowdhury is not someone who would give up that easily. If anything, that heartbreak has only made him stronger. He has now recovered from his injury and is working even harder to get back in better shape than ever and is raring to go again.
People may recognise Mrittunjoy as a left-arm medium-fast bowler who has some ability to bat down the order. But Mrittunjoy is more than just that. He wants to establish himself as a pure all-rounder who will serve his team with both bat and ball when needed. And if he can do justice to his ability, Bangladesh is surely going to have a gem of a cricketer in him.
"I want to be the number one all-rounder in all three formats of the game."
Hailing from Satkhira, a south-western district of the country, where the likes of Soumya Sarkar and Mustafizur Rahman have come from, Mrittunjoy got immense support from his family for playing cricket. Yes, this is kind of an unlikely scenario in our country, but Mrittunjoy was lucky in this case. His father is an avid cricket fan, to be specific, Wasim Akram fan. He wanted his son to be a left-arm fast bowler like Wasim Akram. And Mrittunjoy did not disappoint his father. He made his father's dreams come true.
Mrittunjoy can be regarded as a fast-medium bowler. His average speed, according to him, goes up to 133-135 km/h. He can naturally inswing the ball, which will be a great weapon if he can somehow speed up his pace a bit. He is still young and learning, and don't forget, fighting with a shoulder injury can be a huge drawback for a pacer, but he can always improve. If he can somehow increase his pace, which he believes he will eventually, will be an exciting pacer to look out for.
His name, 'Mrittunjoy', means 'someone who has conquered Death'. Like his name, Mrittunjoy has a knack of rising from the ashes and making the best out of a mess. The injury in the middle of the Under-19 Cricket World Cup has to be a major setback for Mrittunjoy. But his earlier setback turned out to be the turning point of his cricketing career.
Back in 2016-17, he played for Dhaka Metro in Under-16 school cricket, but could not perform well. As a result, he was rejected twice from Under-16 and Under-17 twice within a few months. "This came as a shock to me. I was frustrated. I realized I had to change my lifestyle and be more professional if I want to make it big, and I did," Mrittunjoy told The Business Standard.
He got the result of the hard work he put in during that time. Next year (2018) he played Under-18 and did really well in all three sectors which eventually brought him to the National U-17 squad which played against Afghanistan. This was the turning point of his career. He was named man of the tournament in both 50-over and 4-day match tournaments.
"That performance was a huge boost up and helped me earn my place in the Under-19 squad. Normally it takes a year or two for someone to make it into Under-19 from Under-17, but I was lucky enough to have one great series and seeing my name in the Under-19 team sheet," Mrittunjoy said.
Mrittunjoy now has another setback to come from, and he will surely leave no stone unturned to turn it into another grand turning point of his career.
Mrittunjoy prefers dedication over talent when it comes to a young cricketer making it big for himself and country. " A player, especially of our age, can never take himself to the next level if he isn't dedicated towards his game and doesn't work hard. It hardly matters how talented he is. This is the time to prepare oneself for the next level, so if he doesn't work hard now, he'll eventually fade away," Mrittunjoy seemed confident while saying this. With this right attitude and focus, Mrittunjoy can go far.
" A player, especially of our age, can never take himself to the next level if he isn't dedicated towards his game and doesn't work hard. It hardly matters how talented he is."
Mriunjoy's injury is a big concern which may initially hinder him to focus on playing test cricket. He has been carrying this injury since the Under-19 Asia Cup last year and it is not going away anytime soon. He has though recovered from the surgery he had back in March, still, he is not playing in the ongoing BCB President's Cup as a precaution where he was initially selected for Mahmudullah XI.
Mrittunjoy is now focusing on the One-day format more. "Test cricket is definitely the ultimate goal. This is where the legends are made. I, of course, dream to play test cricket as much as I can. But right now, my injury is a big concern. I will focus on test cricket when I fully recover from this."
Another positive thing about Mrittunjoy is, he does not want to hurry about making his way into the national team till he is hundred percent ready. He does not want to be someone to burst into the national side, play a series or two, and then fade away. A mindset that is really missing among the majority of young cricketers these days.
Even though Mrittunjoy's batting record isn't really that great so far, he does have the ability to bat well. Stats just don't do justice to his batting ability just yet. "I want to be the number one all-rounder in all three formats of the game," Mrittunjoy answered when he was asked about his ultimate dream in cricket. And he did seem really confident while saying these words. To be the number one all-rounder is not a matter of joke and won't come that easy. Mrittunjoy knows that, and he is ready to prepare himself for whatever challenge may come on his way.
Mrittunjoy can finally be that missing piece Bangladesh Cricket has been looking for quite some time now. A fine swinging bowler with the ability to bat according to the situation when needed. And if he can keep himself on the right track, he may go far beyond the expectation and make his ultimate dream come true. And that day should not be too far away.