Mominul's chance to cement No 4 spot
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