Litton Das sped to 54 at the end of the sixth over on Wednesday. Bangladesh were on 83 for no loss, two runs more than what they made at this stage of the first game on Monday. The Ireland bowlers was already looking ragged. Rony Talukdar, Litton's opening partner, though was yet to make his mark on this partnership.
At the start of the seventh over, he went down on his knees to hit legspinner Gareth Delany for a six over long-on, followed by another over midwicket. The Delany over went for 16 runs, before Litton completed the century partnership with a reverse sweep, off the first ball of the eighth over.
The unlikely batting pair, which only came together couple of weeks ago during the T20I series against England, was attacking from both ends. This is really, genuinely unique. It is not something the Bangladesh fans are used to seeing from their T20I openers. For those who have followed the number of opening pairs. Bangladesh have tried - in the last 12 months - and know very well the frustration attached to the search.
The selectors' faith on Mohammad Naim or the hope carried by Parvez Hossain Emon and Munim Shahriar, have all ended up as disappointments. Even Mehidy Hasan Miraz was tried a few times as an opener. As with everything else in his career, Mehidy tried his best but an opening spot was never going to be Mehidy's permanent role. So the search continued. Soumya Sarkar's career was resurrected during the T20 World Cup last year, but that plan, too, fell through.
Litton and Rony added 124 runs in the second ODI, making it Bangladesh's biggest opening partnership. They did it in just 9.2 overs, also making it Bangladesh's fastest 100-plus stand for any wicket. In just five partnerships, Litton and Rony have reached 300 runs together, something that has taken the other three pairs at least 13 innings to achieve.
"I don't think about records. It is a good feeling to get the fastest fifty, but I would have felt better had I scored a hundred."
Litton Das after getting Bangladesh's fastest half-century
Three things have immediately stood out about the Litton-Rony partnership. This is a busy pair, in not just hitting fours and sixes. They conceded only six dot balls during the 124-run partnership. In the first T20I, they played out seven dot balls in a 91-run stand.
Secondly, they are matured openers who know how to use the circle during the powerplay. The pair's individual powerplay numbers are quite impressive. Litton has the best strike-rate in the world (142.57) among those who have faced at least 700 balls in the field restrictions. He is a shade above Quinton de Kock (141.51) and Mohammad Shahzad (140.47) and a few more points ahead of the likes of Alex Hales and Rohit Sharma. Litton's T20 batting has always been effective for Bangladesh, but it would usually come in patches. When his form hit top gear in 2022, it improved his T20 consistency too.
Rony, making a comeback after nearly eight years, is matching Litton's strike-rate in the last two T20I series. He has come into the senior side on the back of a strong BPL campaign for Rangpur Riders, so form is also on his side.
Litton said that the change in opening partnership has brought Bangladesh better performances. He said that it may not go so well every day, but they are enjoying each other's company. He said that it didn't take both too long to figure out how they were going to bat in the second T20I.
"It (the opening pair's performance) changed because the partner changed," Litton said. "I think we added the highest opening partnership. There's nothing like it, but this won't happen every day. We can't hit like this all the time. There will be a period of struggle, but I am really enjoying batting with him. You get the feel after facing one or two balls. We both had the same 'feel' that we can go after the bowling today. We took advantage of that."
He said that he wasn't aware of breaking Mohammad Ashraful's 15-year old fastest fifty record for Bangladesh, but believed that had he tackled with a bit more patience towards the end, he could have got his maiden T20I hundred.
"I don't think about records. It is a good feeling to get the fastest fifty, but I would have felt better had I scored a hundred. I think was rushing it. Their spinners were bowling well, taking advantage of the wicket. If I played their pacers a little more, I could have scored a hundred instead of scoring 83," he said.
The other critical factor about this pair is the handover they have in terms of big hitting. It's not just one-way traffic. After Litton has taken a big over, Rony doesn't relent at the other end by merely taking a single to give Litton back the strike. Rony tries a few big hits himself, to continue piling on the pressure.
Their powerplay numbers in the last two T20I series is their best in ten years. But Litton was quick to warn that they cannot be expected to do this in every game.
"We are playing well as a group. Batting, bowling and fielding. I don't think one can play better than this. We will try to hold on this level consistently, which will give us good results. It is difficult to expect better cricket than this. You won't score 70-80 in the powerplay of a T20 every day. If we can get 60, that's also good," he said.
But an opening pair that has already done so well against a world champion side and the side that beat the world champions only recently, there will certainly be high hopes. Rony and Litton are mature characters who understand the responsibility of those expectations. Litton is regarded as the best batter in the team who is excelling in all three formats. Rony is thriving after an unlikely second chance in the Bangladesh team, something that he probably didn't considered even three months ago. This random mix could just be the key that unlocks Bangladesh's T20I fortunes.