Mosaddek Hossain seeks lasting first impression
Unlike his Bangladesh A team-mates, Mosaddek Hossain's fortunes during the tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe will be heavily scrutinised back home. Three double-hundreds in the last eight months in first-class cricket has earned Mosaddek the tag of Bangladesh cricket's "next big thing".
The label has come after a consistent run of big scores in domestic cricket, which dates back to Mosaddek's first season in the Dhaka Premier League when he single-handedly led Abahani Limited's title fight in 2013. After being chosen on the A-team tour that left Dhaka on Wednesday night, Mosaddek is now among the second line of Bangladesh cricketers at a time when the senior team is having different requirements for the three formats.
Many have observed that Mosaddek's greatest asset - apart from his physical powers and concentration- is his awareness of his own strength and weakness. After making an unbeaten 200 against Sylhet earlier this month, Mosaddek holds the record for most double-hundreds by a Bangladesh batsman. The first of those three knocks was his 250 against Rangpur, and the second a 282 against Chittagong during the 2014-15 season.
It is rare for such a young batsman, particularly in Bangladesh, to bat in so many long innings within a short span of time. Recent batsmen like Liton Das, Rony Talukdar and Marshall Ayub, and before them, Mohammad Ashraful and Raqibul Hasan, all made great starts to their domestic career with significant knocks and run-heavy seasons.
Liton made it to the Bangladesh team this year, but has not proved himself at the international level yet. Talukdar also got a single chance, but that is still not enough for someone who has done so well in the domestic circuit. Marshall was given chances in 2013, while Raqibul's international career has stalled. Ashraful started off at blistering pace in both domestic and international cricket, but a 12-year career hardly reflected his early promise.
Mosaddek hails from Mymensingh, 130 km north of Dhaka. He is the second of four children. He learned the game in the Circuit House club, and made it to Dhaka through BCB's age-group programmes. He made an early impression on his coaches during the nets, and showed his temperament at the crease by averaging 54.37 in Abahani's 2013-14 Premier League campaign.
Still, Mosaddek has a long way to go. As a youngster, he needs to be afforded some protection from inevitable failures. He should also be given time to mature for the international stage. Bangladesh A captain Shuvagata Hom called him "a rare talent", so expectations must also be managed.
Mosaddek sees the Bangladesh A tour as a starting point in his career, but admitted that he might find it hard to adjust to new conditions.
"I am seeing this as a big opportunity for a good performance," Mosaddek told ESPNcricinfo. "I have played for the A team before but missed out on a couple of series in between. I am back now and I want to contribute to the A team by batting consistently as I did in domestic cricket. I won't get pitches like I do in domestic cricket in South Africa and Zimbabwe. I haven't been on a foreign tour in some time so it will take time for me to adjust to the conditions."
Mosaddek's game, from No 5, has been quite simple. He likes to bat within his limitations, which for now is a fair array of shots.He was also seen to have handled batting with the tail quite well, especially against Sylhet during the 2014-15 season. During his maiden double-hundred, he added 423 runs with Al-Amin for the fifth wicket, against Rangpur. In the 282 against Chittagong, he had two late-order 100-plus stands, too.
"I just try to bat naturally. I try to get set and once I do that, like all batsmen, I see the ball better. It also depends on the type of wicket I am batting on. But now I have the confidence to score runs after getting set in the middle. I don't make any shots. I have certain zones that I am good at, I stick to those usually. A big innings doesn't come easily. I needed support of all the batsmen at the other end whenever I scored the double-hundreds.
"Sometimes it was the tail-enders who really helped me, especially our captain Kamrul Islam Rabbi. He was helpful in my last double-hundred. Time and luck also matter when you play for a long time without getting dismissed. I did think of a triple-hundred when I made 282 against Chittagong. Confidence and remaining hungry are also important factors."
Shahriar Nafees, Mosaddek's senior team-mate in Barisal, was very impressed by Mosaddek's ability to bat long. "He bats fluently, fearlessly. He has a sense of his strength and weakness while batting. One thing that stands out for Mosaddek is that he has batted naturally through every situation. He plays exactly how a No 5 should play. All his big innings have been about batting rhythm, and he tended to repeat what he had done before. For a young guy he is a powerful hitter too," Nafees said.
Mosaddek wants to manage his areas of weakness, rather than master it. "It will be wrong on my part to think about the national team now. I will hope to do well on this A tour so that ultimately, by god's grace, I make it to the national team.
"I will have to perform and the rest will be up to the selectors. I play spin quite well but I wouldn't say I am not good at pace either. I may not be able to master the areas where I lack but I can certainly manage them."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84