Positive mindset brings rewards for Imrul

Imrul Kayes cuts on his way to a hundred Getty Images

As recently as last week, Imrul Kayes was still learning how an approach that involved having a premeditated mindset could radically change his batting. He has since implemented the game plan twice in four days, and on both occasions struck centuries.

His 112 in the first ODI against England was his best innings in the format, though his dismissal took a bit of the sheen off the innings that began with a rousing six over square-leg that burst a hole inside an advertising board deep into the Shere Bangla National Stadium's grandstand. That century was a follow-up to his 121 for the BCB XI in England's warm-up match on Tuesday.

Following that innings, which he also started with a cracking boundary off Chris Woakes, Imrul said that it was Chandika Hathurusingha's advice that made him change tack.

It has taken him more than eight years of playing at the international level to appreciate that there is nothing wrong in getting out of his shell to use his full potential. The hundred in Mirpur was testament of his ability to accept that he needed to change his approach to batting. It is also another feather in the cap of the coach Hathurusingha who has now made a difference to the career of yet another international cricketer.

While Imrul's Test career finally took off in 2014, he never quite hit the same note in the limited-overs game. He has opened in all but seven of his 60 matches, but was always playing second fiddle to Tamim Iqbal. Even when he did well, Imrul always seemed to struggle to pace his innings suitably.

Since his debut in 2008, under Mohammad Ashraful and Jamie Siddons, Imrul had developed into an opening batsman who needed to play catch-up at the top level. He had issues dealing with deliveries outside the off stump, especially those angling away. He was comfortable against straight and incoming deliveries, but when bowling attacks figured him out, he looked lost for options.

The cut and square-drive were his strengths too, and along with scoring runs in front of square on the leg-side, a big innings depended on finding gaps in these areas. For the first three seasons of his international career, Imrul batted without having too much focus on him; much of the opponent's attention when playing Bangladesh circled around Ashraful, Tamim and Shakib Al Hasan.

When he lost his form towards the end of 2011, he was swiftly dropped and replaced by seven other openers who were tried with Tamim. Only Anamul Haque and Shamsur Rahman came close to filling his gap completely but via runs at No. 3 in the Test team, Imrul returned to the ODI squad after more than two years.

Though in his return match against Pakistan in March 2014 saw him add 150 for the opening stand with Anamul, the next time he opened was in the 2015 World Cup in place of the injured Anamul. It was a disastrous time for him as he was a mid-tournament replacement with only some domestic innings under his belt. He feared that he was about to be dropped but in 2015, he emerged as an important Test batsman. The fear didn't go away completely as he was in danger of becoming typecast as a "Test specialist", a tag that can be career-threatening for any hopes of returning to white-ball cricket.

His first attempt at reinventing his game came midway through last year's Bangladesh Premier League after he had run into woeful form. He finished off with two rapid fifties, the second of which was in the final where he helped Comilla Victorians to the title.

But this latest change in his general outlook is something that has been happening in the background for quite some time. At some point during Bangladesh's long training camp this summer, Hathurusingha told Imrul to think outside his box.

The aim was to give Imrul a greater presence at the crease through positive body language, so the coach told him to think of playing the cut and pull off every ball that offers width or is pitched short. At the same time he was encouraged to deal with good balls differently, go for singles or defend with intent, but bad balls, of which there can be plenty, should be hit for fours and sixes.

It sounds like a simple message but Imrul's career has perhaps changed for good. He has now found success with the new formula so instantaneously that he may not want to go any other way.

He can now go after the bowlers in the first Powerplay and, given his experience, knows how to work the ball around when the slower bowlers come on. But with his mindset now reset to a more attacking mode, he will always be ready to put away the bad ball.