Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Chittagong, 5th day February 8, 2014

Mominul shows a glimpse of Bangladesh's future

From Habibul Bashar to Mohammad Ashraful to Shakib Al Hasan, one player has had to carry the baton for Bangladesh's evolving expectations as a Test team. That baton might now rest with Mominul Haque

Isam: Mominul was the right man for Bangladesh

It is tempting to put Mominul Haque in the category of seasoned Bangladeshi players who have been tasked to handle the most pressure in their respective times. His unbeaten century against Sri Lanka, his third in his first seven Tests, emphasized the inevitability of his ascent as the catalyst to the country's cricketing future.

During his three-hour stay at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Mominul's building-up of numbers was hardly given due importance. The mental barriers he went past, through numerous turns and curves, became far more noticeable.

An hour into the day's play, he had to take over a battle for survival that should have been extended by Tamim Iqbal and Shamsur Rahman. Kaushal Silva dropped a sharp chance at silly mid-off when he was on four, and once play resumed after lunch, he batted with a retouched tempo. He dabbed Ajantha Mendis for four through third-man, thus getting ahead of the game. He reached 50 off 89 balls, but amid the pressure of survival, his mental ability to cut through the tension came into full view.

The session between lunch and tea has been Bangladesh's black hole, and having considered the necessity of being extra careful, Mominul batted at the right rhythm for those two hours.

Mominul has batted with a lot more vigour during this series, in the second innings in Dhaka. He had been aggressive during the first half of his 181 against New Zealand, but he had otherwise tended to curb his flair to drop anchor. Here he batted at a different pace, picking up the singles that were available and striking the occasional boundary.

The Sri Lankan bowlers were firmly kept out of the picture, and this pushed Angelo Mathews into trying newer options, most of which were attacking, but in a hopeful sort of way, like using Dimuth Karunaratne's medium-pace or Kithuruwan Vithanage's leg spin. Mominul remained positive, hogging more of the strike during his 120-run unbroken fourth-wicket stand with Shakib Al Hasan.

Mominul also had to tackle what other Bangladeshi batsmen usually fail to do while building an innings. Big appeals, wickets at the other end, and breaks in play have all brought wickets to the opposition team, and that happened in this Test match too; Shamsur, Imrul Kayes and Shakib got out soon after reaching milestones in the first innings. It hardly mattered whether the batsman was playing his second, 17th or 34th Test match.

The difference in Mominul's innings was his recognition of these difficult twists and turns, and the manner in which he made them look commonplace.

As Mominul ran through what turned out to be the last hour of play, Shakib tried his best to get him on strike, particularly as he neared the nineties. The senior pro's discernible appreciation of the new pressure-handler came when Mominul was batting on 99. Shakib's inside-edged hoick produced a single, but the shot looked out of place, very risky. He was perhaps too keen on seeing Mominul get to the three-figure mark.

In a way, the baton of handling pressure and taking his team to the next level seemed to pass from Shakib to Mominul. He has already played crucial hands in helping Bangladesh save three Test matches. His 181 against New Zealand was a first-innings effort, which helped Bangladesh gain the lead. In the following Test match, he made an unbeaten 126 to ensure his team entered the final day with momentum on their side, but rain scuppered the last day's play. With this innings, Mominul has built an interesting record; none of his three centuries have come in defeat. Already, he is Bangladesh's highest run-getter at number four.

Shakib, since 2007, has played a key role in helping Bangladesh win the big moments, mostly in one-day cricket and at times in Test cricket. Mominul seems to have imbibed some of this from Shakib.

He has also learned something from Tamim Iqbal, who has been handling the pressure of fast bowling and the hard new ball, a long-time scourge of Bangladesh's openers. He has done it well, dominating attacks, a product of a bullish attitude.

Before them, it was Mohammad Ashraful who had to handle a different type of pressure, in a slightly less demanding time for the team. They used to lose quite regularly, but Ashraful had ridiculous expectations to try and meet. Not surprisingly, he couldn't.

And before Ashraful there was Habibul Bashar, who developed as a cricketer with very little top-level exposure, and had to make a quick jump into international cricket. Bashar was Bangladesh's most prolific scorer between 2000 and 2007, a time during which Test matches were lost quickly. He had to be in charge of avoiding embarrassment, and he was successful on many occasions, through his phlegmatic technique and courage. He has remained Bangladesh's highest run-getter in Tests.

Over the last few weeks, Bangladesh cricket's future has swung from being on the precipice to possibly playing more Test matches in the next few years. To remain relevant and gather more importance, the Test side has to make rapid progress. Mominul will have to play a major role in that.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mayank on February 10, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    Monimul is the future superstar. He is what Bangladesh needed to rally around. Bangladesh is now ready to take the next big step!

  • Android on February 9, 2014, 22:50 GMT

    well done mominul, already three tons hope long it continues.

  • mainul on February 9, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    Picking Mominul was i'll say the best task performed by the selectors so far.@TheRisingTeam i also think that he is Bangladesh's Indian version of Pujara. He should be properly guided in future. That's very important.The senior batsmen in the team Tamim and Sakib haven't yet developed the matured mindset yet to play test cricket. How they will guide a newcomer like Mominul?Rather Mominul should guide these 2 about how to occupy the crease and build an innings. I am very disappointed about Sakib. He is just wasting his talent. He is not a 35+ avg test batsmen. He has ability to increase his avg to 45+ .Yesterday he played at least a dozen of rash shots in his 40+ innings and should have got out.He most of the time plays a 35-50+ innings full of shots and gets out playing a rash ugly stroke.Bangladesh needs long inningses from him.

  • Bang on February 9, 2014, 4:31 GMT

    Watch cricket world! Another 5'4", favourite shot: cover drive, impassive face but brave. Does the bell ring?

  • Shipu on February 8, 2014, 20:42 GMT

    Rare batsman Bangladesh have unearthed. Probably Bangladesh's Indian version of Pujara. Mominul not only has talent and works hard, but has an extremely cool head which most of our batsman lacks. I think he will be a great success against teams like New Zealand and India especially on subcontinent type of pitches but his real test will be against the top teams like Australia and South Africa especially on faster bouncier wickets.

  • KH. RAFIQUE on February 8, 2014, 18:02 GMT

    Very well written Mr.Isam.No doubt about that Mominul is the BIG find for us ,specially in TESTs.But i must remind you all that still we need at least 2 batsmen in the middle order who can consume at least 200 balls altogether to give our team a momentum.Currently all our batsmen in TESTs are simply stroke maker and dont know how to occupy the crease for a long time.By the grace of ALLAH we have now a huge pool of players from whom we can make a different TEST teams (ENG,AUS,SA make a success).With this different TEST,ODI and T20 teams strategy we can get the best from the players as they would be selected for particular format to perform.For example-just look Tamim, after failing in 3 consecutive innings he scored 30 odd runs in the 4th innings and secured his place in t20s and ODIs.Simply unacceptable but this practice goes with all the renowned players of BAN team.But if we go with the above mentioned strategy then definitely our players would pay high value their position in team.

  • Shafin on February 8, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    Absolutely a Master Class inning played by Mominul under tremendous pressure, with as many as 6 close in fielders around him. The pitch was assisting the spinners, when he came in, BD just lost both openers and my goodness the ball was turning sharply and huge pressure was created by SL by several close in fielders. Well done Mominul!

  • Dummy4 on February 8, 2014, 17:55 GMT

    all the best mominul hoqe we hope you lead the banglaesh cricket.. god bless you.....

  • Golam on February 8, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    At last ... some mataure cricket from BD ! Hope it continiues !!

  • Dummy4 on February 8, 2014, 17:43 GMT

    In the league cricket there are few young stars are still waiting for the opportunity to join National team. I believe if Bangladesh gets the proper opportunity to play good amount of test cricket they can beat any team.

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