Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Galle, 4th day March 11, 2013

Mushfiqur sets new benchmarks

Mushfiqur Rahim has matured as a batsman and captain, and one of his immediate goals is to improve Bangladesh's record in away Tests

By becoming Bangladesh's first double centurion, Mushfiqur Rahim achieved a major landmark for a country that has struggled to be competitive during its 13-year existence as a Test nation. Historical importance aside, the innings was also a greater boost to his captaincy than any of his other weighty performances over the last two years.

Mushfiqur's unflagging concentration for more than seven hours was not surprising for a gritty batsman who is technically sound. The situation required the ability to assess potential trouble that was just around the corner, when he walked in to bat at 177 for 4 on the third morning in Galle.

He had to ensure the senior batsman at the other end, the perplexing Mohammad Ashraful, also remained steadfast as Bangladesh sought to avoid the follow-on. Mushfiqur had to be mindful of the usual frailties as session breaks approached, and when the mind and body tired towards the end of the day. When Nasir Hossain came to the crease, Mushfiqur let the youngster lead the partnership, just as he had led the 267-run stand with Ashraful. Mushfiqur had given Ashraful the time and space to bat in a new way, and with Nasir at the other end he needed to focus on reaching the 200-run milestone.

The change in roles was smart thinking on Mushfiqur's part and he reached the double just after lunch on the fourth day, but his astuteness is no surprise. He is a batsman who has not had a dip in form in the last two years, a claim only Shakib Al Hasan can make in the team.

Bangladesh were without two of their most important players - Shakib and Tamim Iqbal - and have been dealing with several off-field issues. The captain, especially of a young and struggling side like Bangladesh have been for a long time, needed to lead by example in such a situation. Mushfiqur will complete two years as captain in a few months, and this innings came at the right time: in his first Test in charge away from home.

"You would want to lead with runs and wickets, as a captain," Mushfiqur said. "I am happy but the happiness is just not for myself. Nasir, Ashraful and Mominul did very well, so credit goes to them too.

"Sri Lanka have a very good record in Galle, and some of our best players didn't come. There were expectations on me, as well as a lot of pressure. It is a very positive sign that we can overcome these challenges."

Mushfiqur survived the axe following Bangladesh's exit from the 2011 World Cup, in which he failed to contribute significantly, and has not looked back. After he was handed the captaincy in controversial circumstances in mid-2011, he has grown into the role, taking lessons from phases of his career that weren't pleasant.

Mushfiqur was the wicketkeeper who displaced Khaled Mashud, the crisis man during Bangladesh's early days as a Test nation and a popular figure in the country. How he transformed from accidental villain to exemplary figure in six years is worth a closer look.

It wasn't just hard work, but also how he carried himself that made a world of difference. Though a strict disciplinarian in his personal life, Mushfiqur never tried to impose his personal traits on his team-mates. But as leaders hope, the younger players are, unwittingly or otherwise, adopting their way of thinking - that the only path to runs, wickets and wins is hard work and focus.

Mushfiqur said after the fourth day's play that he had discussed the probability of a double-century with Ashraful, but not just for himself. "We had dinner together. I told him that, 'I want you to score the 200 first. Go for the 250-mark too, so that I can make a double-hundred too.' That's how we were planning yesterday: we will get to milestones together. I am seriously feeling very bad for him because he deserved the double thoroughly."

His immediate challenge is to guide his team through this Test match, this series and perhaps win a series away from home in the next two months.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    Welldone Little Mushy so proud of you man!! A great Captain in the making, He showed it in many occasion always calm and pro-active a great professional and a role model. Just look at the Sylhet Royals they didn't buy big many name players but there was him. Tears came into eys watching you guys succed. Followed this team for years, woke up early morning here in UK to watch matches, and I remember my dad used to shout at me for doing this. Beleave it or not he woke me up today!!

  • Urjun on March 12, 2013, 11:33 GMT

    Its great job by the tiniest captain in the world.Size doesnt really matter

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    If Mushfiq is retained as captain for next five years I am quite sure we will see a much improved Bangladesh team. He is a good planner not only in cricket but also in his personal life. Despite his bussy schedule in cricket he also kept his focus on his academic achievements and he has completed his Masters recently from Jahangir Nagar University , one of the leading Universities of the country. He has a sound technique , he is composed and a high level of concentration he applies in his batting. They way he motivates his team there is no doubt we will see better performance from the team when Skaib and Tamim , two star players are back in the team.

  • Divine on March 12, 2013, 6:17 GMT

    Amazing knock man! We are so poud of you!

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    He is very talented batsman. And Bangladesh has few batsman like him. But, they have less chance to show off their performance. Bangladesh cannot be taken easily. SL has understand the fact. Now, Bangladesh can challenge any other country. What they need is first bowler.

  • KH. RAFIQUE on March 12, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    What would i say?I'm getting very emotional.After following the Bangladesh team since 2000 test status i have been dreaming for this day when Bangladesh batsmen(As well as the Bowlers but i think it would come little bit later) would do very well in the strong subcontinent neighbor fields.And what a way MUSHFIQUR and ASHRAFUL have done it.Its feeling like I've done the batting instead of them.All the best to both of them and rest of the Bangladeshi batsmen to break the mountain of 200 run and post a new record of your own.Roar Tigers Roar>>

  • shahadat on March 12, 2013, 4:09 GMT

    most improved cricketer of bangladesh. along with tamim and shakib he set the standard high

  • SYED on March 12, 2013, 3:52 GMT

    Congratulations, Mushfique, Ashraful , Nasir and Team Bangladesh! We wish you all a world good luck!

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2013, 3:07 GMT

    Super article...the best thing I truly liked about the article is the part where reactions have been taken from those who have been very closely associated with the development of today's Mushfiq!Our former national team players should always be recognized as it is because of their relentless effort that we at least have a base from where we can now challenge teams.It was a great idea to take thoughts from one of the best sports reporter of our country as the efforts of the ones behind the scene often goes unnoticed!Keep it going Isam!

  • Md. Shamsul on March 12, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    Rahim is such a brilliant guys who has education, knows manner, he can speaks very good in English, good leadership attitude, well disciplined in his personal life, a family man and of course a nice and polish gentleman. As a cricketer he is continuing his long journey though he is passing with a good form for last 6 months or so, but he has to go a long way. Best wishes to Musfiq and his company. Isam this is absolutely a superb news.

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