When Mushfiq bats, Bangladesh relax. When Mushfiq bats, Bangladesh stay hopeful…..
The Asia Cup is off to a flyer with Bangladesh pulling off a memorable win in the series opener against Sri Lanka. It wouldn’t have been a better script for Bangladesh to kick-off their Asia Cup campaign. Their players showed some staggering intensity and courage, especially Tamim Iqbal, who batted with one-hand after suffering an injury at the outset. This very moment lifted the spirit of Bangladesh as he helped the centurion Mushfiqur Rahim to stitch a 32-run stand after the fall of the ninth wicket. For Tamim, the Asia Cup is done and dusted after he fractured his left wrist.
Sri Lanka were heavily boosted by Lasith Malinga’s incredible return, but his heroics were camouflaged by Mushfiqur Rahim’s recklessness. His innings was a fine example of calculated aggression; he knew when to attack and when to defend. Moreover, his intent was good and rotated the strike extremely well. His knock of 144 is now the highest score by a Bangladeshi batsman in Asia Cup and second-highest from his country in ODIs. He accounted for more than half of Bangladesh’s total, 55.17 to be precise, which is the highest individual contribution in the history of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh opted to bat first hoping to make the most of batting-friendly conditions, but Lasith Malinga wreaked havoc with the new ball. Bangladesh were off to a rocky start, losing two wickets for as many runs, and then suffered a huge loss when Tamim Iqbal was retired hurt with just three runs on the board. They were virtually three wickets down in two overs. They needed to steady the ship and somehow sail it out of choppy waters; a quiet partnership was the need of the hour for Bangladesh. An experienced Mushfiqur Rahim was joined by Mohammad Mithun at the crease and what happened next was almost a miracle for Bangladesh.
Rahim stuck to his guns and realized his need to bid time out in the middle. He brought all his experience into play and showed no hurry in placing the innings. Along with Mithun, Mushfiqur weathered the early storm with a match-saving 131-run stand. This partnership infused momentum in the languishing Bangladeshi side and brought them back into the game. Moments later, another batting collapse triggered as Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hussain departed without making an impact.
Mushfiqur shepherded the tail and ensured Bangladesh posted a competitive total. With Tamim providing a supporting hand for the final wicket, Mushfiqur batted very smartly in the last three overs. Tamim was batting with one-hand and Mushfiqur ensured the former didn’t get much strike. The right-handed batsman smashed three sixes and as many boundaries in the last three overs, which is a testament to his versatility, belligerence and calculated aggression. He is an accomplished batsman and his innings today was just a fine example of it.
Mushfiqur placed his innings sensibly, an art which he has developed quite perfectly. Although he has failed to finish off quite a few games in his career, but has an uncanny knack of scoring the tough runs and getting the team out of trouble. Bangladesh posted 261 runs on the board, which looked implausible at one stage, but one man made it possible, fighting all the odds, he helped Bangladesh make a comeback from nowhere. The scorching UAE heat took a tough test, but Rahim was all prepared for it. The conditions were taxing to play such a long innings, but Mushfiqur showed some horse-like stamina, which is nothing but a reflection of his hard training. Initially, the pitch gave an impression of being conducive for batting, but the fact that no batsman other than Mushfiqur and Mithun managed to get going speaks a different story.
This was one of the greatest comebacks by Bangladesh and easily one of the greatest knocks by Mushfiqur. This side has announced themselves in the tournament, but they will need other batsmen to step up and deliver in their next assignment against Afghanistan. This kind of innings has certainly lifted their spirits and injected some self-belief. One cannot afford to underestimate Bangladesh and this was just an example of it. Over the years, Mushfiqur has been one of the vital cogs in the team and will have a key role to play if Bangladesh are eyeing the trophy.