When Mahmudul Hasan swept New Zealand captain Jesse Tashkoff for a boundary to fine leg in the 44th over, he became the first non-Indian in the history of the Under-19 World Cup to score a hundred in a semi-final. The next ball, he got out trying to loft the bowler over his head with Bangladesh still 11 from a win.

He walked back to the pavilion, but the emotions were mixed. He was happy to deliver in an important game for his country but sad that he had left the satisfaction of finishing the match to other. The rest of Bangladesh, however, felt just one thing: delight. Unbridled joy because his Player-of-the-Match performance secured Bangladesh's maiden final appearance in the competition.

Mahmudul's highest score in his last eight games was 38. But New Zealand have been a favourite opposition. Three months ago, he went to their backyard and whacked them for a 99 and a century. There's something about them that gets the best out of him.

The chase of 212 on Thursday was tricky - a total neither here or there - that came with the additional pressure of a knockout, but Mahmudul dug in after Bangladesh had lost their openers early, playing risk-free cricket in the company of Towhid Hridoy and Shahadat Hossain, while his partners took the aggressive route.

In the tour of New Zealand, I was on 99 once but got out just one short of the hundred. So this time I didn't want to stay in the 90s for too long. I saw a ball in my range, and went for it
Mahmudul on hitting a six to get to his century

The boy who models his batting around Shakib Al Hasan and Rahul Dravid [he wants to be called 'The Wall' in his country] played an innings that would make both those men proud; within the squad, his nickname is 'Mr Dependable' and on the big stage, he showed why.

Mahmudul's stubbornness at the crease comes from his childhood. As a kid, he was always the youngest within his group playing the game in the bylanes of Chandpur. So all the older boys would just stick him in the field. On the rare chance that he got to bat, he was the last man in. All those hours of waiting for a turn helped him develop what has now become his trademark, a serious hunger for runs. The son of a banker had a different career path laid out by his family, but his desire to succeed on the cricket field threw all those plans out of the window. Now, it's all bearing fruit.

"Bangladesh have been in the semi-finals quite a number of times, but first time to reach the finals, it's a very special moment," Mahmudul told ESPNcricinfo after the game. "I just wanted to bat step by step. I told Towhid, 'let's score ten runs first and then think about the next ten'. Once our partnership began to bloom, it sunk in that we could actually chase this total down with ease."

The way Mahmudul reached his hundred, by going for the extravagant sweep, instead of nudging the ball around for ones or twos, showed his human side. Scars from the past determined his shot-making at that point. It was uncharacteristic, but he had his reasons.

"When I was in the 90s, I was very nervous. In the tour of New Zealand, I was on 99 once but got out just one short of the hundred. So this time I didn't want to stay in the 90s for too long," he said with a laugh. "I saw a ball in my range, and went for it."

After reaching his hundred, Mahmudul walked towards the dugout and raised his bat at the crowd, soaking in all the applause that resonated from the numerous Bangladesh fans who had made their way to the college town of Potchefstroom to watch this historic moment. The applause rang out for a solid minute and Mahmudul took strike again to finish the game off. Sadly for him, he couldn't do it.

"I am disappointed not being there till the end," Mahmudul said. "The team wanted me to stay there till the end, but I ended up playing a rash shot. At that point, I just wanted to finish the game as quickly as possible, and a wrong choice of shot ended my innings. I should have taken a different shot option and relished the opportunity to stay not out while the winning runs were hit."

The time between his dismissal and the post-match press conference was no more than ten minutes, but in between the celebrations, the team dances and the victory run around the JB Marks Oval, he had found time to analyse his innings.

As it often is with cricketers in Asia, praise and criticism are like Siamese twins. Mahmudul is soon asked by a Bangladesh mediaperson why he threw his wicket away after reaching his hundred: 'why does this issue plague Bangladesh cricket', the gentleman asked.

It was a difficult question, one that goes beyond his own game, but Mahmudul responded with a kind of innocent honesty that only teenagers have. "I wanted to hit the winning runs quickly and finish the game off," he said with a smile. It made everyone at the press conference melt.

Bangladesh now face India in the final on February 9. Over the past decade, Bangladesh v India games have perhaps even overtaken India v Pakistan matches for competitiveness and possibly even passion. Mahmudul, however, said that the team wouldn't let emotion get in the way when the sides meet on Sunday.

"Just because it's a final doesn't mean we'll play any differently," he said. "We have reached this far only because we have played our game in a consistent manner. Expect us to play our normal game. I assure you, we will not take any extra pressure, and inshallah things will turn out alright."

There are many Under-19 stars who have fallen away as the years have gone, some struggling to make their first-class teams, some long discarded from the national team plans, some moving to a different career option. Nobody can predict how Mahmudul's career will pan out but his name is already etched in Bangladesh cricket history. And while he will want to add more chapters to that story, it's not something that can be erased.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo