Mushfiqur finds redemption for Harare disappointment
Very few men get a shot at redemption within just two months of a disappointment. Virender Sehwag needed four years and 175 runs to restore his pride against Bangladesh while Jason Gillespie had to wait a year and look to his batting to provide salvation. Sehwag had been dismissed for 2 in India's loss to Bangladesh in the 2007 World Cup, which ended up eliminating them from the tournament, so his swashbuckling hundred in Mirpur in the 2011 edition was revenge of sorts. Gillespie had been hit for a six in the last over of Australia's embarrassing loss to Bangladesh in Cardiff, in 2005, so he would have felt glad that his first double-century, which came in his last Test, in Chittagong, was against the same opponents.
It is hard to find cases where a Bangladesh player has achieved similar redemption. There are very few shots at glory and the propensity of the board to drop those who flounder under pressure means comeback-stories are a rarity.
Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh's new captain, was lucky to be presented with a similar situation to the one he bungled up in Harare in August. This time, he finished the job in style, hammering the penultimate delivery of the Twenty20 international against West Indies high into the stands at midwicket.
In Harare, Mushfiqur had fallen at the final hurdle after playing a tremendous knock. Not many Bangladesh batsman can guide the side through a stuttering innings with the ease with which Mushfiqur did in that game. He knocked around the ones and twos and pulled out the big hits when necessary during his 101, and could have kept Bangladesh alive in the series against Zimbabwe. However, with six runs needed off five balls, he skied one to long-on and was the last man dismissed, giving Zimbabwe the win.
At the Shere Bangla National Stadium on Tuesday evening, it was a similar situation though the conditions were warmer and the crowd larger. Mushfiqur walked in after Bangladesh had lost three wickets for three runs after a brisk start to their chase of 133. The added burden of being captain must have weighed heavily on the 23-year-old, who is known to take personal failure very seriously.
He hammered the ones and twos this time, given that it was a Twenty20, and only launched into a big hit after he found confidence in Nasir Hossain as an able partner. With 13 to win off nine balls, Mushfiqur guided one between short third-man and the wicketkeeper for four. The calmness with which he played that shot bore no shadow of the ghastly form he endured during this year's World Cup. There were calls for his head, especially when one of his competitors for the wicketkeeper's slot, Dhiman Ghosh, struck a few hundreds in first-class cricket, but Mushfiqur was persisted with.
His latest resurrection began against Australia, when he hit 81 not out in the second ODI but his effort was overshadowed by Shane Watson's 185 off 96 balls later that afternoon. This time though, no giant could eclipse the Mighty Atom who started celebrating the victory even before the ball had crossed the rope.
Mushfiqur's 26-ball 41 was the key to Bangladesh's second Twenty20 win over West Indies but what was also significant was that the recently sacked captain Shakib Al Hasan and vice-captain Tamim Iqbal both remained heavily involved in Bangladesh's performance. Shakib and Tamim combined to give Bangladesh their first dismissal of the match, that of Adrian Barath. Shakib continued to impress as a Twenty20 bowler while Tamim was energetic in the outfield.
With Shakib's every move being cheered by the capacity crowd, Mushfiqur used his key bowler cleverly, spacing out his four overs. Mushfiqur remained busy in the field and only looked slightly flustered when Marlon Samuels started attacking the bowlers, pounding sixes at will. The short spells Mushfiqur used his best bowlers in suggested he had a plan despite Bangladesh's lack of Twenty20 experience. And after his bowlers had done half the job, he completed it himself.
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka