“Just when it seemed like everything was falling apart once again, Mominul Haque showed the courage and determination to rise up against all odds“
Bangladesh came into the second Test match against Zimbabwe, at Dhaka, with a lot at stake; and so did their left-handed middle-order batsman Mominul Haque. While Bangladesh had their eyes firmly set on salvaging their pride after their 151-run humiliation in the previous match to a team placed below them in the ICC rankings, Haque was probably left with a lot more to salvage than his pride.
0, 33, 1, 0, 0, 15, 11, 9
This is how the 27-year old’s scores read in his previous eight outings prior to this match. His poor run of form started right after he struck back-to-back centuries in both innings against Sri Lanka at Chittagong. In fact, even those centuries came after a long wait of four years. The last time he had scored a century was back in November 2014 at the same venue against a touring Zimbabwe side. What had followed afterwards was a 23 innings drought for a century during which he scored 642 runs at just a meagre average of 27.91.
This was the same man who had started his Test career on fire and thus had become the fastest Bangladeshi batsman to reach 1000 Test runs. It seemed like he was fizzling away after the initial burst. 28 ODI outings in which he scored just three fifties, and averaged a dismal 22.28 along with an unacceptable strike-rate of 74.36 again, also convinced the selectors that he was not a limited overs prospect yet.
So it seemed like everything was slipping away from the hands of the Southpaw until he smashed those couple of centuries in consecutive innings in Sri Lanka. But when the drought resurfaced once again, right after those two magnificent knocks, Haque found himself in the doldrums once again.
However, just when it seemed like everything was falling apart once again, he showed the courage and determination to rise up against all odds. He took adversity in his stride like a champion and stitched yet another mesmerizing knock of 161 runs after walking out to bat in a situation of crisis; when Zimbabwe had the hosts on the mat at 13 for 1.
It was quite an early entry into the field for him as Imrul Kayes failed to deal with the testing opening spell of Kyle Jarvis. He looked determined to form a partnership and lead Bangladesh to a safe position. But he saw the fall of two wickets in quick time instead, which further worsened their situation. They were further reduced to 26/3 from 13/1 and that was when he was joined by the experienced Mushfiqur Rahim in the middle.
What followed afterwards was a master-class of a partnership in which Haque dominated. He made a nervy start to his innings but started opening up after weathering the initial storm from the Zimbabwe seamers. Once the spinners came on to bowl, he took complete command of the game. He dispatched them to all parts of the ground with his classy cover drives, picture-perfect straight drives, wristy flicks and venomous cuts.
As he progressed in the innings, he seemed like a completely different batsman as compared to his previous eight innings. The jittery, out of form, less-confidence and nervous batsman got transformed into a supremely commanding, confident and dominating individual who controlled the run of play according to his own sweet will.
Also read: Mominul Haque rediscovers his mojo
Mushfiqur Rahim, at the other end, continued playing the second fiddle. His assured presence at the other end made it easier for Haque to carry on in the way he was playing. The carnage continued throughout the entire day until it was brought to an end in the last half hour of play by a well-taken catch by Brian Chari at gully. It was Tendai Chatara who did the trick with the new ball as he invited him to drive a full delivery outside off stump. Haque backed himself to dispatch it to the boundary once again, considering the form he was in. But he failed to negotiate with the swing which in turn led to his downfall.
It’s true that there was a double century on the taking and more importantly just four more overs in the day remaining. It was quite foolish of Haque to throw away his wicket like that. In fact, he has been guilty of throwing away his wicket on these kinds of scores earlier as well. Two of his previous six centuries were scores of 150-plus and he had blown away his chances of playing a further long innings in a similar manner.
However, despite his habit of throwing away his wicket, what matters is the way he has brought himself back in form. It has directly affected Bangladesh’s chances of drawing the series level equally as the momentum is with them after the first day of play.
Haque has to realize now that he can’t let that bad run of form return again. It is quite difficult for individuals who get tagged as one format players to retain their position in that particular format as well. Unless he shows consistency, his place is never going to be valued.
Only time will tell if he can adapt his playing style to the shorter versions of the game as well. For now, he needs to focus on bringing stability and consistency to his Test career, for he is too good a player to fade away into obscurity.