Bangladesh in Sri Lanka 2012-13 March 27, 2013

Mushfiqur coming to terms with pressures of captaincy

The tour of Sri Lanka has been a test of Mushfiqur's captaincy, and he appears to have been learning to deal with the challenge

Like many Bangladesh captains before him, Mushfiqur Rahim has often stressed how important a start, of an innings, match, series, or tour, is for his team. As far as the tour of Sri Lanka is concerned, they had started well by drawing the Galle Test. A good finish, which can only happen by levelling the ODI series, will further reinforce their improvement as a team.

The sole Twenty20 on March 31 is the last game of the tour but it's the third ODI that will attract attention, and it has certainly been treated that way by their captain, the most important man in the side.

Mushfiqur has gradually become the team's central character, in the absence of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, and Mashrafe Mortaza. He has had to absorb the influential roles of these three key individuals in the line-up, in addition to his job of captaining the side while wicketkeeping. It is not an easy task, and Mushfiqur appears to have worked with determination to accomplish it.

Mushfiqur's meticulous preparation is now well known, pulling him out of a career-threatening axe two years ago. It has landed him in a position where he doesn't just have his batting or wicketkeeping to hone or think of; he has 16 other minds to read and influence.

Mushfiqur certainly has kept the team from falling apart as it deals with a number of high-profile injuries. His double-hundred in Galle was an innings that has had considerable influence; the team believes it is not a second-rate side without Shakib and Tamim. Head coach Shane Jurgensen has talked about how much the team has pulled itself closer, and how more decisions taken are team-centric.

"Every decision we make is team-based," he said. "We train specifically, and I try to recognise when we win what we did before and after the game.

"The team does come closer [without the stars]. The young guys have been quite welcomed by the senior players. Tamim has been fantastic when he has been around. It is a bit of change for me because we are trying to work closer to each other."

In the ODI series win against West Indies in December last year, the key factors were the acceptance of responsibility of Mushfiqur and his deputy Mahmudullah, the surprising contribution of the younger players, and the manner in which some of the bit-part performers stood up.

Mushfiqur has had help from some of those on this tour but the likes of Mahmudullah and Anamul Haque haven't delivered by way of performance. The pace bowlers have been inaccurate at most times, leaving a lot to do for the spinners. The opportunities have been fewer but these have come against a quality opposition that has dominated.

Doing well against Sri Lanka in their backyard was a pipedream for Bangladesh teams that have visited the country since 1986. For instance, in 2007, the Bangladesh team had failed miserably in Sri Lanka after their best World Cup campaign and a home series against India in which they had their moments. Mushfiqur's side, however, has held its head high even after four weeks in Sri Lanka, a first.

With Bangladesh now on the verge of either going home empty-handed or leaving with dignity, Mushfiqur and several issues have been pulled into the limelight. He probably never liked being the centre of attention and throughout this tour, he has tried to keep himself a little secluded. A modern-day captain has several issues to deal with and many of those are off the field, but Mushfiqur has taken his time to come to terms with the demands placed on him.

As he will walk out to do the toss with Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews on Thursday, Mushfiqur should take a closer look and gauge the sort of pressure his friend from his Under-19 days is in currently. It will provide him with the perspective of the level of pressure that a captain can go through, and whether or not he must de-stress.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2013, 13:17 GMT

    Best of luck Mushfiquer Rahim ..........You have ability to reach at top level in the international cricket......You can influence ur team members...They also influence 2 u after saw ur double ton in the Galle test in absence of ur 3 key players......And ur started ur work right now....There is lot more 2 go......

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    shamsur rahman should included opener today. Because anamul is out of perform.

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    Bangladesh got the poorest bowling attack right now. Batting is pretty positive with new talents coming up and will come further to strengthen the depth but what about bowling? We are yet whining for Mashrafi, Abdur Razzak. Only notable young bowler we have is Sohail Gazi. Bangladesh seriously need to do something quickly.

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    Today is gong to be another washout.

  • Ashqar on March 28, 2013, 6:21 GMT

    go tigers go.....atleast we need one win....dont want to come back empty more....!!!

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2013, 2:21 GMT

    Please play Shahadat inplace of Rubel... Rubel going for plenty runs :/

  • Sal on March 27, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    Mushfiq is a down to earth and practical captain, not over-confident or arrogant at all. Hope he continues to do well, both as a captain and a batsman.

  • Aaquib on March 27, 2013, 17:49 GMT

    Undoubtedly The Greatest Captain of Bangladesh Mushfiqur Rahim...b4 apart from Habibul Bashar and Mashrafe all captains were immature includes shakib too who failed miserably in Home WC and against weak Zim in 2011

  • Hasib on March 27, 2013, 17:39 GMT

    Mushfiq is a good captain. Hope we come up with good fast bowlers in 2013. Keep Nazmul, Mortaza, and Shafiul injury free. Opt for Musharraf Hussain for the 3rd ODI.