Sanity prevailed in Mirpur as Mushfiqur Rahim came out to bat at number five and Bangladesh have been highly benefited……
At Sylhet, in the first Test against Zimbabwe, Mushfiqur Rahim’s decision to bat at number six was not welcomed by the critics. Being the best batsman of the team and in the absence of Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, a lot of responsibilities depended on Mushfiq. The best batsman of the side should bat higher up the order, that is what the batsmen of top teams do.
The Zimbabwean bowlers set jitters in the Bangladesh batting order as four wickets fell in a matter of time and when Mushfiq came out to bat at number six in both innings, he had no genuine batsmen left to carry on the fight.
Logic says, Mushfiq should have come out to bat either at number four or five, which would have not only given Bangladesh batting the ideal balance but also, would have helped to arrest the painful collapses. There is a school of thought, for the sake of keeping wickets, Mushfiq prefers to bat at number six, which sounds funny, but as a matter of fact, the numbers suggest, he has scored more runs batting at number six and seven.
While batting at number six, he averages 37.18, which is way better than 26.31 – batting at number 4, 32.55 – batting at number 5 and 32.55 – batting at number 7. Moreover, last year, he averaged more than 50, while batting at number six. So, his decision to bat at number six is well-backed by the numbers.
But in fact, numbers cannot always be considered as the only important thing according to the demand of the situation. When your team demands responsibility, you need to shun emotions and forget about the numbers and act accordingly. Also, in the absence of the vital cog – Shakib, along with whom Mushfiq batted most of the times at number six and seven to boost his numbers, it was the order of the day for Mushfiq to promote himself high up the order.
In Sylhet, it did not happen, but sanity prevailed at Mirpur, where Mushfiq came out to bat in a very critical situation and stabilized the situation with composure.
Kyle Jarvis started to move the ball and his seam-up deliveries left the Bangladesh top-order in disarray. Imrul Kayes and Liton Kumar Das were devoured by the sharp movement and when Donald Tiripano had the better of debutante Mohammad Mithun, it seemed, Bangladesh would fail to surpass 200 runs in ninth consecutive innings.
Thankfully, Mushfiq came out to bat at number five. The first ball he faced from Tiripano was a-length-one, which seamed, but Mushfiq shouldered arms and left it. It was close enough, but not closer enough to hit the stumps. That’s where the experience of Mushfiq came into play – he picked up the length earlier and decided to leave – it hinted confidence of a man, who went out there to resuscitate the innings.
Mushfiq’s partner, Mominul Haque was finding it tough at the other end. He was dropped at 9 and 25 and never seemed to be able to get into the zone after such a horrendous run in the previous Test matches. In such a situation, Mominul badly needed assurance from the other end to flourish and Mushfiq’s decision to bat at number five simply provided Mominul with the assurance and guidance.
In the post-match interview, Mominul said, “Mushfiqur bhai guided me throughout my innings. I found out why he is one of the top five players in Bangladesh. It really affected me. I think his input was important for me. I think it is one of my best hundreds. It was an interesting innings. It was tougher than some of my other hundreds”.
Indeed a tough hundred for a man, whose numbers are pathetic in the previous innings. What such players need is guidance to travel through the troubled waters and such a guidance comes from the experienced campaigners like Mushfiq, who is arguably the best batsman of Bangladesh cricket team.
Then, when the matter was about arresting a collapse, Mushfiq played his role like a wall, which tough to break for the Zimbabwean pacers, who posed a big threat in the morning session.
The pacers pitched the ball tad fuller to use the early morning moisture and Mushfiq decided to get behind the line as much as possible to execute the drive through cover and cut through backward point region – 30 and 23 runs came respectively through those regions in comparison to 19 runs at square leg and 17 runs at midwicket – the areas, which Mushfiq loves to score runs. There were lesser through the V as it was not easy to score runs through long on and long off – the sharp movement would have kissed the edge.
But the best thing about Mushfiq’s knock was occupying the crease. Maybe, scoring slowly is not appreciated enough in this age of power-hitting, but still, when the matter is about grafting match-saving partnerships in trying circumstances, such a ploy is still as valuable as gold.
Mushfiq’s strike rate was 48 in comparison to Mominul’s 61 – the little man went slow, but his composure provided the perfect foil to Mominul’s fluency, who brought an end to his lean patch and at the end of day, Mushfiq remained not out on 111 – his first hundred since that eye-catching ton against India last year in Hyderabad.
Certainly, Mushfiq batting at number five helped Bangladesh a lot.