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Mominul Haque does not wish to bask in the glory of his Man-of-the-Series performances against New Zealand when there are mistakes to learn from
October 26, 2013
Mominul Haque sounds like a young man in touch with reality. It is easy for a 22-year-old in a largely young and impatient dressing room to be like his team-mates. Mominul likes to go about things his own way, and life has taught him to be pragmatic and grounded.
His mother has been ill for a few years and was paralysed last year. He misses her a lot when travelling, so when he got his century in the Dhaka Test, he thought of her and how happy she must be while watching him on television. Perhaps it's also why he doesn't celebrate much.
When he used to return home to Cox's Bazar on school breaks, Mominul said, his mother would be standing at the door waiting to hug him. This time, when he went home after the Chittagong Test to celebrate Eid with his family, she was sitting in a chair. The moment they hugged, Mominul knew how happy she was.
She isn't the only one. Mominul's 376 runs in the two home Tests against New Zealand earned him the Man-of-the-Series award, to go along with his Man of the Match for his unbeaten 126 in the second Test. Both his hundreds in this series were scored when the team was in trouble - in Dhaka, Bangladesh were 55 for 2 after conceding a first-innings lead of 155, and in Chittagong, he made his maiden Test hundred after walking in with the score at 8 for 2.
The two centuries follow an up-and-down start to his Test career this year. After making two fifties in Sri Lanka, Mominul struggled to convert good starts in Zimbabwe and was even dropped from the ODI team.
"I wouldn't have scored these two centuries if I hadn't played badly in Zimbabwe," he said. "I scored 23 and 29 there. It is a big crime to get out when you're set at the crease. If I hadn't made those mistakes, I wouldn't have come this far. There are a lot of big lessons from these small mistakes. I have learned this since my childhood.
"You have to remember that you are scoring the runs, but you have to make it a big one. If you score four or five ducks in a row, that's definitely bad. But scoring 20s and 30s doesn't necessarily mean the end of the world. I wasn't playing badly at that time in Zimbabwe. I thought a lot about it and worked on things."
He eliminated a blind spot to do with deliveries that knocked him in the ribcage and on his pads. Mominul couldn't contain the bounce in Zimbabwe, where even medium- pacers frustrated him. After a couple of months of intense training during the off season, he made the most of the run-scoring opportunities against New Zealand.
"I scored quickly in Chittagong to get to the hundred and then slowed down. They had plans in place for me in Dhaka. They put a deliberate leg-side field, with four and sometimes five fielders, and bowled to me there. Tamim bhai certainly helped me when that happened.
"With the hundred in Dhaka, I understood some things about international cricket. At this level if you play well one day, the opposition will plan for you the next day. The off-season work on my leg-side techniquecertainly helped me," said Mominul.
Former Bangladesh fielding coach Mohammad Salahuddin is a mentor to Mominul, like he is to many other top cricketers in the country. Mominul usually calls him up when he's having problems. This time he also got a pep talk from two others.
|"Shakib bhai and Tamim bhai told me that it is a crime to get out in the 20s. They said, 'You have to make sure the starts are converted into big knocks'"|
Talking to Salahuddin sir helped me. Shakib bhai and Tamim bhai also had a talk with me after I hadn't done well in Zimbabwe. They told me that it is a crime to get out in the 20s. It means that you're not settled in the team. They said, 'You have to make sure the starts are converted into big knocks.'"
Salahuddin was also an influential figure in Mominul's growth, particularly when he made it into the Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Prothisthan academy. His parents weren't sure if it would be a good idea for the youngster to move from Cox's Bazar to the Savar-based sports institute, but Mominul's love for the game won them over.
"My parents said no at first, but when sir talked to them, they agreed. I was a decent student, not great. If I was a good student, they wouldn't have let me go to BKSP.
"I used to play in the neighbourhood in Cox's Bazar. There used to be a BKSP camp there, which I joined. A coach told me to try my luck getting admitted to BKSP, and I did."
But Mominul is not optimistic about the chances of other cricketers like him emerging from the picturesque beach town on the southern shores of Bangladesh. "It will be very difficult for them to come this far. There are no facilities there, no league happening for two years. If I had stayed in Cox's Bazar, I would have struggled. I was lucky to have gone to BKSP and made it this far," he said.
The distance he has travelled is impressive. Mominul is known to be one of the fittest players in the team, he fields well, and improves his batting every innings.
He had a fever before the start of the Dhaka Test and played while running a high temperature. By the time he had rescued Bangladesh on the fourth day, he looked exhausted. "It was a tough innings in that sense. There is pleasure in playing well when you're not 100% well. I didn't understand how difficult it would be, so there was something to learn from it. In the future if I have to play in such a situation, I can adapt quickly. I missed a few singles for Shakib bhai. It was hard for me to breathe at times," Mominul said.
Tamim Iqbal said that Mominul reminded him of Shakib Al Hasan, a man whose will power gets him past plenty of barriers on and off the field.
Bangladeshi batsmen don't often do well when asked to bat for survival, but Mominul has certainly defied the sceptics. His attitude is also praiseworthy. Two centuries in two Tests, and instead of waiting to embrace the impending stardom, Mominul is clearer than ever before that he has a very long way to go.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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