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The numbers of BJ Watling and Mominul Haque's innings offer an insight into the mindset as both batsmen reacted quite differently when faced with a similar kind of pressure
Mohammad Isam in Chittagong
October 10, 2013
The striking contrast between BJ Watling's second Test hundred and Mominul Haque's highest Test score was evident in their boundary count. Watling struck six fours and two sixes in his four-hour stay at the wicket. Mominul already has 13 fours in a 71-ball 77, which is rather uncharacteristic of his natural game.
The numbers said much about their mindset at the crease, which played a key role, as they gathered knowledge of the conditions and reacted to the situation of the match.
Mominul arrived with the score at 8 for 2 in the fourth over, with Bangladesh still 461 runs behind. He also had to contend with the possibility that a failure here might mean his exit from the XI with Naeem Islam waiting in the wings.
Watling only had tailenders for company since the seventh ball of the day's play. He had every option to attack, since he had little to lose from that point, and since he would have been forgiven for trying to up the tempo and grab what he could as their innings was starting to slide downwards.
Instead Watling chose to grind like the top-order batsmen on the first day, making sure the bowlers came to him rather than him chasing after them. A sound strategy on a slow wicket, considering the majority of the bowler's successes would revolve around the batsman making a mistake.
It came when Watling was on four as he flung at a Rubel Hossain delivery way outside off-stump and Nasir Hossain taking the catch at gully. But it was a no-ball, as revealed by the later TV replay, and Watling tightened his game.
"I am obviously feeling rather lucky today," Watling said. "It happened to one of them [the Bangladesh batsmen] too. It's great to get that opportunity to keep going and make it count and try to make a decent contribution.
"I just tried to switch back on and start again really, learnt from the mistake that I made. It was a pretty rash shot so it was good to get a chance to redeem myself and try to score as many runs as possible."
The 127-run stand for the tenth wicket with Trent Boult was more down to Watling's doing as he farmed the strike cleverly in the first hour and let Boult free in the second half of their stay at the crease.
For Watling, who was playing only his third Test innings in the sub-continent, it was only a matter of getting used to the pitch. The one in Chittagong is a typical Bangladeshi wicket which offers very little bounce to play any horizontal bat shots or any pace to work the ball.
"I wanted to be patient and wait for them to bowl some bad balls," he said. "I think if you bat a lot of time on that wicket you can get used to it and you can score runs when the bowler starts to tire."
For Mominul, this was the sort of innings that would answer some of the questions on his ability to play Test cricket. He has scored two fifties in four matches but he found things difficult in the only Test he played in Zimbabwe, and in the ODI series where they experimented with him at No. 3 for a while. He had also averaged just over 28 on Bangaldesh A's tour of England, which was disastrous for most of the tourists.
However, Mominul benefited from some ill-directed bowling. He didn't have to go out of his way to strike three consecutive fours off Bruce Martin's first over. It was the same story against Doug Bracewell in the next, and as he moved to a half-century off just 36 balls.
Mominul's innings transferred the pressure back on New Zealand as he and Marshall Ayub added 95 runs for the unbroken third wicket to take Bangladesh through till end of day's play.
The overnight batsmen's first task is to see out the first hour, whatever the quality of bowling is, especially considering Bangladesh have more often than not lost wickets early after a promising overnight score. Mominul and Ayub should take a leaf out of Watling's book, for he displayed patience when he could have easily taken the safer route of batting for himself.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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