A lean patch
36.86 in 2015, 23.50 in 2016 and 28.25 in 2017 are the batting averages of Mominul Haque in last two years. Even in 2014, he averaged 51.17 with the bat, but all of a sudden, Mominul experienced a lean-patch which almost made him an unknown figure in Bangladesh cricket fraternity. His poor form led to his exclusion from the 14-man squad for the Test series against Australia.
Mominul’s exclusion was not taken nicely by Bangladesh sports journalists and fans and during the press conference, the chief selector, Minhajul Abedin had to face a lot of heat from the local press. But Minhajul Abedin was calm, composed and logical about Mominul’s exclusion as he said, “Mominul made just one fifty in the last six innings. He was dropped because of his form”.
Abedin added, “Mominul is not unlucky because based on current form, others are ahead of him. There’s less pressure playing in away Test than a home game, so we didn’t take that into account”.
But luck was on Mominul’s side as an eye infection of Mosaddek Hossain paved the way for him. He was brought in to replace Mosaddek but things were much deeper than this. It would take Nazmul Hassan, the boss of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) to step up and interfere with selection. So, yet again, Bangladesh’ selection took a 180-degree turn within a day and to the pleasure of local journalists and fans, Mominul’s name featured in the squad.
The boy from Cox’s Bazar did not play in the first Test, but in the second Test, he was included in the squad. But he failed to create an impact in both innings. He went out to bat in the first innings at number four where he averages 60.53 and looked a bit scratchy at the start, but as soon he started to rediscover his mojo, he was dismissed. In the second innings, surprisingly, he had to bat at number eight. As usual, he was found struggling. Indeed, Mominul’s form was under the scanner.
Mominul rediscovers himself
Bangladesh drew the Test series against Australia and their next assignment was against South Africa at their own backyard – a tough task ahead for Mominul as he has to prove his worth and if he fails, critics and selectors won’t be friendlier enough towards him in upcoming days.
A smart declaration by Faf du Plessis led Bangladesh to come out to bat without their regular opener, Tamim Iqbal. In the sixth over, Imrul Kayes had to depart and it brought Mominul at the crease. He is not someone who relishes batting at number three. He averages 38.14 in that position, but according to the demand of situation, he had to accept the challenge.
Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada were in no mood to show any mercy towards the visitors and after bouncing out Kayes, they breathe fire. Liton Kumar Das rolled his wrists and used his back foot excellently to tame Morkel and Rabada, but when Liton departed after showing a lot of promise, Mominul witnessed the departure of a shaky Mushfiqur Rahim.
Mominul discovered himself in a similar situation like the first Test against New Zealand at Chittagong, where he unleashed a mind-blowing counterattack despite the poor position of home team who were reeling at 8 for 2. But this time around, Mominul curbed his natural instincts to counterattack and decided to exhibit resolve. And, obviously, it paid rich dividends. He notched up 77 runs and hinted, he’s not finished yet.
Technical analysis of Mominul’s knock
Scripting this knock of 77 was not like a bed of roses but Mominul had to adjust and break a lot of sweat for it:
Occupying the crease
Mominul read the situation well. He knew he was not in good nick and if he decides to play his shots, it might backfire and trigger a collapse. He decided to spend more time at the crease and adapt to the situation. Because, as soon as a batsman get’s well set at the wicket, he can script shots according to his wish. After spending some nervy periods at the wicket, gradually, Mominul was back in the scoring mode.
Playing with a straight bat
While defending the spinners and pace bowlers on Day 2, it was seen, Mominul’s bat was not coming down straight. The bat was directed more towards second slip and automatically if affected the position of his head and front toe – directed more towards cover while dragging the willow down. And thus, whenever he defended the ball, a gap was noticed between bat and pad.
This technical inefficiency was hardly noticed on Day 3.
His backlift was perfect and the bat came down straight while playing those drives. It aided him to meet the ball in the middle of the bat and script some beautifully timed shots.
Keshav Maharaj created a lot of problems with his length and variation of pace. But if a batsman uses his feet well against the spinners, it’s never a tough task to tame them. Mominul is always blessed with a brilliant footwork and fluid wrists. He decided to disturb the length of Maharaj by coming down the pitch with a quickish footwork. It worked well for him as Maharaj was hit several times for boundaries by the pocket-sized dynamite.
Initial trigger movement on the back foot
In England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, a batsman’s initial trigger movement should always be on the back foot. The reason batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara were extremely successful in Australia and South Africa, because of their initial backward movement which automatically helped them to get behind the line of the ball quicker than the others.
Mominul’s initial trigger movement was on the back foot and thus, in the first session when Rabada and Morkel posed a threat, he was able to counter those confidently and progress through a very crucial passage of play.
It was great to see Mominul back in form and rediscover his form. It would not only help Mominul to claim his authority in Bangladesh top order but useful for Bangladesh as well as because Tigers desperately need one of their best batsmen in Tests to remain consistent.