West Indies in Bangladesh 2012-13 December 9, 2012

Bangladesh's leaders set an example

Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah have led by example in the absence of Bangladesh's most vital player, Shakib Al Hasan

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim and his deputy Mahmudullah have taken the long overdue steps from being occasional match-winners to players who can regularly do so. Their performance in the 3-2 victory in the ODI series against West Indies has been the biggest gain for Bangladesh in the last four weeks of international cricket.

In the deciding match in Mirpur, Bangladesh had stumbled to 30 for 3 in pursuit of 217, when Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah counterattacked and put on 91 runs. They only made 40s, but their contributions prevented a susceptible line-up from collapsing.

What made their contributions in this series stand out was the absence of Shakib Al Hasan, who was injured for the ODIs. Normally, Shakib does it all, and that has been the case in Bangladesh's few series wins in the last few years. When they beat a second-string West Indies in 2009, Shakib played the lead with Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah in supporting roles. Against New Zealand in 2010, Shakib did it by himself, scoring hundreds, taking wickets and leading the side as Bangladesh won 4-0.

Shakib was also a significant contributor to Bangladesh's Asia Cup victory in March, but over the last two years Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah have also been match-winners, mostly finishing tense chases. They had the leadership roles on paper but hadn't been performing them on the field. Now Mushfiqur, the more talkative of the two, has asserted himself as a captain by leading from the front in difficult times. Mahmudullah's reticent nature, however, was taken as reclusive, even soft at times.

In the last four weeks he has been anything but soft. After making 62 in the first innings of the Dhaka Test, Mahmudullah had gathered enough confidence to take on Tino Best. He was bruised but remained at the crease for 83 minutes in the second innings, taking hits on the body, fighting bouncers by hooking for six, a rarity for Bangladesh batsmen. He was dismissed by Best in both innings but his career had advanced. Just before West Indies arrived, there had been calls for Mahmudullah to be dropped after he had been in poor form in the World Twenty20s as well as in first-class cricket.

"I know that if you're not performing, you are not worth your place in the team," Mahmudullah said. "It was an extra responsibility to perform consistently. I was under pressure but all I thought of was to contribute to the team, and perform consistently.

"I didn't have a good time in the last few matches but since I batted at No. 7 my role is of the contributor, not the one who makes the big runs. It doesn't always catch people's attention as a result."

Mahmudullah credited Mushfiqur for giving him enough space, a factor that was vital in him regaining confidence. But more importantly it was taking up responsibility that pushed him to do more for the team. "Without Shakib, who is our best player, I felt I had to stand up in the team," he said. "My role as the vice-captain is to help the team's leader. Mushfiqur is an intelligent guy and we talk a lot among ourselves about what needs to be done for the team to do better."

Mahmudullah's promotion to No. 5 was not likely because of the lack of experience in the line-up, but Mushfiqur thought it would be best to give his form player more opportunity to bat. It was a positive move, one that the captain needed time to make, but he did change things around to give the team a positive outlook.

Mushfiqur's captaincy was also heavily tested in this series, and he will be pleased with his progress after taking over from Shakib in controversial circumstances last year. After the early exit from the World Twenty20s and the Test series loss to West Indies, Mushfiqur put himself under immense pressure. He came good with a Man-of-the-Series performance in the ODIs against West Indies, and will have a clearer idea of how fortunes fluctuate in cricket.

Bangladesh need more players in their team to take the step up that Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah have, if they are to build on their success in 2013.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Smith on December 12, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    @Stolid Raymond Gaskin Charisma: Good Joke!

  • Andrew on December 12, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    @Stolid RG Charisma - A bit of a reality check - how is what Bangladesh any different to the diabolical pitches the WIndies dished up for Oz??? From what I saw of the WI v banga series - deliveries went through fairly true, unlike in the WIndies where there was variable bounce on the first day. Your mob prepared pitches to suit Narine in the ODIs. The great shame of it is, the route the WIndies are taking is very similar to Bangladesh - the pity of it is, the WIndies great pace heritage is poorer for it. How Roach ever burst upon the scene is amazing, considering the pitch quality in your own backyard favours spinners. Apart from Chanders, nobody scores at an ave of more than 40 in your domestic comp. So you have a lot more things to fix than Bangladesh IMO!

  • Shoaib on December 11, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    West Indies were lucky because the world best one-day all-rounder wasn't playing otherwise it would've easily been a 5-0 banglawash. The two games West Indies won were only just and lack of experience got to us so you were lucky.

  • Al - Jabir on December 11, 2012, 2:20 GMT

    @ charisma sorry for hurting u so bad hahahaha

  • ismot on December 10, 2012, 11:29 GMT

    @Mr Charisma@ u r welcome mate, we accept your chalenge, i like to remind you about the serise of 2009! there were only few were missing who are playing current series.best of luck for the future

  • Dummy4 on December 10, 2012, 11:29 GMT

    i think bd teams future is bright. now our reserve bench is too high.

  • Sarfin on December 10, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    @ Stolid Raymond Gaskin Charisma, you are a stubborn and stupid. Did you watch any match? These pitches only rewarded GOOD cricket. Batsmen without proper technique suffered here. Spinners got turn, pacers got swing with the new ball. Good batting was rewarded. Two hundreds were scored, two pacers got 5 wicket haul and not to mention about spinners. This is the definition of GOOD pitch. Reward for everyone. I think you are one of those morons who think flat highways are good pitches. It was WI who played poorly. Bangladesh scored 292 and WI could not reach 200. Why? Because your batsmen FAILED. Most of your batsmen lacked the technique and temperament to cope with it. I love WI team. But fans like you only bring hatred.

  • Jonny on December 10, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    @Stolid Raymond Gaskin Charisma:- haha...Then what does India use? you lost to minnows so no excuses for you. Cricket is a sport played in all sorts of surfaces and conditions. The same West Indies before this series that said they want to be number 1 in ODIs lol first beat Bangladesh then you can start dreaming of such positions. Your next series is interestingly against Zimbabwe at home, that's where things will really get interesting and funny if you struggle to play against them good luck! The pitch for ODIs had a bit of bounce carry, was swinging, spinning so what's your good definition of an ideal pitch? just curious :D

  • Jonny on December 10, 2012, 11:04 GMT

    @Anas Nawaz:- What? did Bangladesh play series against the big teams before 2000? the year they got full status lolz please don't try to twist things I know the truth is hard to take :P

  • Andrew on December 10, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    Whilst I love a succesful WIndies, I was really happy that Bangladesh stood up & beat the WIndies over 5 ODIs. There is so much talent in the country, yet measurable improvements have been few & far between. This is probably their best bi-lateral result IMO - just shading the 4nil whitewash of NZ. Bangladesh to be succesful overseas - they need to get a 2nd seamer to support (a fit) Mortaza. Maybe Shafiful is the man, still think in ODIs & T20s, that Reza is the better option, as he is really slow & the batsmen have to really middle him to get a boundary, & he is a competant batsmen. == == == Zimbabwe really need to be playing Bangladesh (or anyone) as I would imagine that if the two teams clashed now, Bangladesh would thrash them as a) Bangladesh are in form, & b) Zimbabwe have done nothing for ages.

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