Bangladesh news August 12, 2014

Mominul braces for short-ball trial

It is very difficult for a Bangladesh cricketer to stay out of the spotlight, simply due to the number of TV cameras they face in Mirpur every day. On Tuesday, Mominul Haque actually tried to sneak away through an unused stairs from the grandstand balcony, only to be stopped and persuaded to speak to the camera for a minute or two.

Apart from his off-field persona of being a very private person, Mominul has calmly walked into many turbulent situations in the last 12 months in the Bangladesh team, and come out unscathed with an impressive Test average of 75.50.

The coach Chandika Hathurusingha has already pointed out that Mominul's next challenge will be against a more informed opponent, and that the young batsman is aware of what awaits him in the coming weeks in West Indies.

Mominul has worked overtime in the Mirpur nets to prepare himself against short-of-a-length deliveries. He has so far shown aptitude at handling decent pace bowled above his waist, although last year in Zimbabwe, he was given a stern examination by the likes of Kyle Jarvis and Shingi Masakadza.

"I haven't thought of [opponents knowing more about me] as a challenge specifically," Mominul told ESPNcricinfo. "But because of my height, most bowlers will tend to bowl here [points at his right rib cage] when I will play in overseas conditions. So that in itself is the main challenge. I have to find out runs from these lengths.

"I have been working on batting off my back foot since returning from the A team's tour of West Indies. As soon as you make some runs, the opposition will start working on your strengths and weaknesses. So you have to improve further."

But in more familiar conditions in Chittagong and Dhaka, Mominul handled the bowling attacks of New Zealand and Sri Lanka far better despite being tried with short deliveries on numerous occasions. He racked up three centuries during the 2013-14 season against these two opponents, enough to suggest that teams will definitely start analysing his batting footage.

"I hadn't played too many Test matches, so they bowled at my favoured zone. They didn't know much about me. Most of the time I found runs with the cut. But against Sri Lanka, they just didn't give me anything to cut, so I had to look for other means to find runs. They tried to bowl to me away from my favoured areas."

Apart from on-field battles, Mominul, like all other Bangladesh batsmen, will have to deal with the long gaps between Test matches, which is clearly his favoured format. Tamim Iqbal has regularly spoken about how that has hurt his momentum, and some have even joked privately that it will take a very long time for a Bangladeshi to just reach 100 Tests.

"I see it in a positive way. I think sometimes it is better to get some time to improve one's game. There is obviously a negative side to it: we are playing fewer Tests than other countries."

While Test cricket has been rosy for Mominul, he hasn't reached similar heights in one-day cricket, where he has struggled to capitalise on good starts. Mominul was dropped after the first ODI against India in June, and though that decision was criticised at the time, there is a perception within the team management that Mominul is strong enough to handle rejection.

Still, Mominul has made it clear that he will treat the upcoming West Indies tour as a very important one.

"I personally feel it is an important tour for me, and many of my teammates. We have a new coach in place too, so it is going to be the same for all of us. People have an expectation on me now. So if I have to live up to that, I have to play well, and hold on to that average. In ODIs, I don't have that good an average, so I have to better that too.

"If I bat at No 3, I have to bat according to the team's situation. I will try to play as I have done before, and I have some idea which areas they would attack. I don't find any extra pressure but I want to show that I have improved with the time I have had to work on my game."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84