New Zealand in Bangladesh 2013-14 October 8, 2013

'Time to focus on the cricket' - Mushfiqur

With the BPL scandal embroiling Bangladesh cricket of late, Mushfiqur Rahim, the captain, wants the side and nation's attention to be focused solely on the upcoming New Zealand series

The first Test against New Zealand, which begins Wednesday, will lead Bangladesh back on the right track after six months of scorn and scar. The BPL corruption scandal has been the most talked-about topic ever since Mohammad Ashraful admitted his involvement in fixing matches, and later when he and eight others were suspended indefinitely by the ICC.

Bangladesh captain, Mushfiqur Rahim, wants his side and country's attention to be firmly on the game. "It is time to focus on cricket," Mushfiqur said. "The whole team is doing just that. We want to do well in the whole series, to give the people of Bangladesh another opportunity to smile."

It had been unbearable for those who passionately follow the game in Bangladesh. The drip feed of sordid details and rumours have not dissipated much, with new information routinely emerging. The Bangladesh players too have found it hard to follow all that has been coming out of the scandal, and have mostly kept themselves away from it.

The corruption tribunal could be formed this week after it missed the 40-day deadline of starting the full hearing last month. What will actually accelerate the healing process is the sight of the national team taking on a higher-ranked side. Though Test match cricket hasn't seen large crowds here for a while, Bangladeshis have responded to criticism and controversy in cricket by turning out in numbers.

The topics of discussion too have changed over the past few weeks. Ashraful's replacement at No 3, possibly Marshall Ayub, has been far more important to talk about than how the former Bangladesh captain fell from grace.

Marshall is a shoe-in to replace Ashraful but there is still a debate raging on who to pick between Mominul Haque and Naeem Islam at No 4. The decision on whether to pick a third spinner after Sohag Gazi and Shakib Al Hasan, or to altogether replace Gazi with Abdur Razzak, is another conundrum.

Mushfiqur is a little concerned with the six-month gap between Tests, but he said that if Bangladesh has one problem in this game, New Zealand will have three.

"Our bigger challenge is with ourselves rather than against them [New Zealand]. We are playing Test cricket after a long time and this is a new wicket and a new square.

"But if there is a problem for us, then I expect it to be triple for them. We are quite habituated and we are hoping to get used to the pitch fast."

There are a few other areas of concern for Bangladesh. The most interesting of them is the expectation on them because of the 4-0 drubbing they handed New Zealand in the last ODI series in 2010. At the same time, Bangladesh have yet to master the art of finishing off Test matches, often yielding ground after making strong starts.

"We often play well in the first three days and then lose because of the last two days," Rahim said. "From the Sri Lanka tour we kept reminding ourselves after each session to perform well in the next so that we can play well throughout the match. We have these short aims that we are trying to achieve and hopefully we can play well in the entire test and be consistent."

Mushfiqur is hopeful of a series win, especially with Shakib on his side. The allrounder was the Man of the Series in 2010, when he led the side in the absence of Mashrafe Mortaza. His other advantage is the number of performers in his side. The likes of Nasir Hossain, Sohag Gazi and Robiul Islam will give him more confidence.

"Pressure is always there, and there will be a pressure on us because we have been playing well at home for the last year and a half. I think the players are a lot more responsible now, and hopefully if we can play well as a group we can outbid the pressure."

The rain in Chittagong could delay the start of play on the first day, but cricket has replaced controversy at least in the tea stalls, restaurants and living rooms. Mushfiqur would also want the full attention of those around him, and not just the cricketers, to be on the game.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on October 11, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    musfik is our hope captain ..evrey time he set good job for team bangladesh if luck our musfi...

  • Manesh on October 9, 2013, 7:32 GMT

    @ocean565. What you are going to prove with that? Also, you are wrong. India took 20 Years only but only 24 tests (there were only few tests playing at that time) to win. that too agaist the best team of that time Engalnd. Ist test India (actually ,Pakistan, India and BD Combined) played on 1932 Vs Eng. India won a test on 1952 Vs eng by and Innings and 8runs. More to that, 23 tests played in between time where 12 of them were draw. That means they lost only 11 of them.

    On the otherhand BD took 35 games to beat a lower ranked team like BD. They draw only 3 of them and lost all 31 tests. So do not bring Indian team in to the scene.

  • Hossain on October 8, 2013, 20:45 GMT

    @saddam....India took 30 yrs to win a test match. beat that

  • khondokar on October 8, 2013, 20:44 GMT

    Just for the people who are fighting here for no reason.."bangladesh has won 5 out of 9 ODI in 2012 all against strong opponents" Here is the link:;id=2012;team=25;type=year

    In 2013 they have won 2 out of 5. So in last 2 years, Bangladesh have won 7 out of 14 games. Not too bad. But would love to improve on that.

  • Dummy4 on October 8, 2013, 20:00 GMT

    "But if there is a problem for us, then I expect it to be triple for them. We are quite habituated and we are hoping to get used to the pitch fast."

    It would have been okay for Mushfiq to have said this before the ODI series, a format in which Bangladesh have done reasonably well at home in the last couple of years. However, going by the test record (even at home), he is being way too overconfident. BD have always struggled in tests.

    Ashraful wasn't a regular member of the side to begin with. We were always looking for a stable no.3 batsman. One good knock in 20 matches is just not good enough. I am waiting to see how Ayub does; I feel he should be given a chance.

    About Naeem and Mominul, I want the latter to play because the former is not really a test batsman. He did get a hundred against the Windies last year but he is more suited to the shorter formats.

  • Anand on October 8, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    @Cricket_is_Unpopular, last i heard performance talks for itself..... in any case 3 wins in about 30 games played truly is an improvement over 0 wins in 30 games played prior to that...but still does not warrant test status.

  • Subroto on October 8, 2013, 17:43 GMT


  • Chris on October 8, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    @Saadam: Excuse me but he is the captain and captains are allowed to talk as much as they want. He's not a shy person like the other guys. He's even lively behind the stumps. What did Afghanistan do? Bangladesh since 2012 beat India, Sri Lanka and West Indies several times and winning/drawing series.

  • Anand on October 8, 2013, 16:02 GMT

    For someone that talks so much Mushfiqur's record is appalling, much like all of the Bangladesh side. Look at Afghanistan, so much improvement, perhaps Bangla, Zim, Ireland and Afghanistan should play a quandrangular test series, and the winner of that given full test status.