New Zealand in Bangladesh 2013-14 October 17, 2013

Mominul's chance to cement No 4 spot

Bangladesh have not had a much success in finding a batsman who thrives at No. 4. Mominul Haque has made a positive start in that position

Over the last 13 years, Bangladesh have had to endure a paucity of runs from their No. 4 batsman in Tests. Their newest candidate for that position, Mominul Haque, has the opportunity to make it his own. After scoring his maiden century, Mominul is already Bangladesh's fourth-highest run scorer for that position, in only seven innings, and has the best average. He is of composed character, but coping with the expectations placed on him now will be as much of a test as the challenges of batting at No. 4.

The second half of his six-hour 181 in Chittagong was a fair indication of what Mominul can expect in the second Test, the rest of the winter and the foreseeable future. He had started quickly, feasting on freebies from Bruce Martin and Doug Bracewell to score Bangladesh's second quickest Test fifty. On the third morning, Mominul had continued to bat in similar rhythm, reaching a century off 98 balls with his 18th boundary.

That's when he stopped scoring freely, not abruptly but he began to limit shots. The cover and square drives, the sweeps and quickly driven singles were put away. He used the nudge and push, and the primarily defensive prods that brought him singles. Whether the New Zealand bowlers finally got it right or whether Mominul batted cautiously, he scored 50 off his next 98 deliveries. He slowed down further as his captain Mushfiqur Rahim dominated, and by the time the partnership was broken, Mominul had a strike-rate of 66.05.

He said later that the bowlers had probably figured out his strengths and bowled accordingly, but there was no obvious change in the modus operandi of Trent Boult and Bracewell. Even as he slowed his pace, however, Mominul showed he was comfortable with grinding down an attack.

Even if he did feel as though the bowlers were getting on top, Mominul has few reasons to worry. Bowlers are supposed to dominate periods of a Test and batsmen are supposed have the good sense to try and see them off. Pride must be swallowed.

Mominul remained confident between 100 and 181. He was happy to give the strike to Shakib Al Hasan or Mushfiqur, free-scoring batsmen who were fresh at the crease. Mominul's score is the highest by a Bangladesh batsman at home, and the third highest overall. It was also only the third hundred at No. 4 for Bangladesh.

Mominul will need to use that temperament in order to have more success than his predecessors at No. 4. Mahmudullah batted there in Zimbabwe before him, and before them Naeem Islam looked like a good fit but he was careless and got injured. If Naeem or any other batsmen have hopes of displacing Mominul, it is not a far-fetched ambition, because Bangladesh batsmen have not held down the spot with conviction.

Mohammad Ashraful has the most runs at No. 4 for Bangladesh, but his 691 runs have come at an average of 15.70. Of the 47 batsmen who have batted at least 40 innings at No. 4, Ashraful's aggregate and average are the lowest. Aminul Islam lasted two years before Ashraful took over; Rajin Saleh was only slightly better, from 2003 to 2008. He was the last batsman to get more than six innings there, after which ten more batsmen were tried.

Mominul has made the sort of start that will make Bangladesh believe they have unearthed a successful No. 4, but he has only begun. After his century, Mominul told a journalist in Chittagong that he had celebrated only because, "It wouldn't look good if there was no celebration". It is his wish to remain in the background. Bangladesh can do without the flash and bluster at No. 4; they will settle for runs.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jared on October 20, 2013, 2:19 GMT

    @ abcdef_12345 you might be right but the measure of a world class team is being able to win test matches abroad in all conditions, as poor as nz have been of late, while im not 100% sure i think nz has won tests in every other test playing nation, i think bangladesh are a long way from doing that, i have no doubt you will get there but just being good in the sub-continent is only half the job so maybe a decade or two isn't so far off the mark before you beat england in england, australia in australia, south africa in south africa, new zealand in new zealand, when you have done this you will get nothing but respect from the cricketing world, you reckon 5 years, maybe in 5 years you will be a force in india, srilanka, west indies and pakistan which are simalar conditions to your own but your a wee way off beating the others at home.

  • Tauhidul on October 19, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    I agree Anamul has a poor footwork, but Marshall did show good promise. He can defend solidly and drive pitched up deliveries (all Anamul knows is back foot cover driving). As a result I qould like to continue with Marshall and give him more opportunities. But Naeem, too deserves a chance, so we can let Marshall open with Tamim and get Mominul at 3 and Naeem at 4. I believe this will help us more, as Tamim knows he has a partner at the other end who can defend at least, and he can play his natural game.

  • maruf on October 19, 2013, 8:02 GMT

    tamim, naeem/anamul, marshall, mominul, sakib, mushi, nasir, gazi,razzak, robiul, alamin.

  • mohammad on October 19, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    kiwicricketnut We do not need decades to form a world class team.We only need 5 more years.

  • Shahriar on October 19, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    Some people start to create pressure on mominul.may mominul is a good performer.but we must remind it,an over presser can make a performer we may look after the next some match,specialy next Dhaka may fine tunning our doubt.hope mominul will rewarded us another time with a match winning batting.may allah bless him,bless on Bangladesh Cricket.

  • Dummy4 on October 19, 2013, 1:07 GMT

    Honestly, Mominul should just stay at 4. He needs to be handled carefully as he is a really good talent. I suggest picking Naeem Islam for second test in the third position or he can open with Tamim and Anamul can play in his strong position of No.3.... With Marshall Ayub already tried, I suggest it will be a no-brainer for the team management to try this...

    1. Tamim 2.Anamul/Naeem 3.Naeem/Anamul 4.Mominul 5. Mushy 6. Shakib 7. Nasir 8. Mahmud/Rubel 9. Gazi 10.Razzak 11. Robiul

    If Rubel is selected, it will be a no-brainer to make Gazi bat at 8... Just wanted to state that so my fellow mates didn't start arguing again :D

  • jared on October 19, 2013, 0:57 GMT

    Well i'd definatly like to see bangladesh produce world class players, hopefully mominul will be one, world cricket needs to grow or runs the risk of going stale, i'd also like to see ireland given the same oppotunity as bangladesh and zimbabwe and grow the game, out of all the so called "minnows" and i include nz in that mix, bangladesh has the most potential to be a power house of the international scene, it might be a few decades away but with the player base they have and the country is clearly cricket mad they will definately produce world class players soon enough, they have improved alot over the last decade and as long as that continues more and more of their players will make an impact on the international stage, lets hope mominul is one of them.

  • TMoney on October 19, 2013, 0:07 GMT

    Mominul Haque's future isn't batting at no. 4, it is at no. 3. I'll see how Marshall Ayub goes at no. 3 but if he doesn't get going then i can see Mominul plugging the massive hole for Bangladesh at #3. Momin ultimately opened the innings when he made his 181 and showed he can change the course of the game, which he did. Those qualities are for a batsmen at #3. Yes people might be thinking "then who will bat at no. 4?". There is a guy who is waiting in the wings that has proven he can perform for Bangladesh. His name of Naeem Islam. Naeem Islam made a century in his comeback test match against WI. After that he has performed well in Bangladesh first class comp, list A matches and has shown his qualities in the recent tour of England. He clearly derserves a shot in the test team and i have no doubt that Mominul at #3 and Naeem at #4 will be a game changer for Bangladesh. If they can find a quality opener to partner Tamim then they will definitely go leap and bounds.

  • TMoney on October 18, 2013, 23:51 GMT

    Anamul Haque and Mominul Haque were brought into the national team around the same time. Anamul was said to be a future superstar as he was the highest run scorer in the U19 World Cup and dominated Bangladesh's domestic comp, whereas there wasn't as much hype about Mominul. But when i watched both of them play i knew Mominul was going to be a much better player than Anamul. And its proving to be true. Anamul has atrocious footwork whereas Mominul is a graceful batsmen with good technique and footwork. In my opinion Mominul will be a mainstay in the Bangladesh test team for years to come.

  • Subterraneo on October 18, 2013, 21:45 GMT

    @Warm_Coffee: I made the same observation about the BD team of mid-2010, where Shakib, Tamim and Mushfique had cemented their places and Imrul and Roqibul had been lingering for more than a year. I predicted that the core of the team lay in those players who survived for so long, and that the core would be able to make the team competitive in the future. Although Imrul and Roqibul did not last till today, there still is a solid core consisting of the Shakib and Tamim (debuts in 2006), Mushfique (regular from 2007), Razzak (debut in 2004) and Mashrafe (debut in 2001, punctuated with many breaks). And compared to mid-2010, BD team has become more competitive, as testified by ODI results.

    Two years from now, the core might become even better, adding Nasir and Mominul (maybe Mahmudullah or Gazi as well) to the above players, who are not close to retirement - except Mashrafe, which points to the perennial fast-bowling problem.

    If half-decent, robust fast bowlers are produced, then yes.

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