Mominul strives for strike-rate improvement

Mominul Haque drives down the ground AFP

Mominul Haque faces the unusual problem of being one of the leading Test batsmen in Bangladesh but without a guaranteed place in other formats. However, he has said he is working hard on improving his strike-rate by increasing his range of shots.

Mominul's Test average, 63.05 in 23 innings, dwarfs his numbers in ODIs - an average of 23.60 in 24 innings - but his real concern is the 74.58 career strike-rate in ODIs. In the World Cup, he scored just four runs in two innings against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka though he batted in vastly different situations. He was picked in the 14-man squad against Pakistan, but with other batsmen having done better than him, he would have to bide his time.

In the 15 innings he has batted so far at No 3, Mominul has a slightly better average but his strike-rate remains almost the same. He has batted at a strike-rate of over 100 in only six innings, and none of those crossed the 60-run mark. His Test numbers are significantly better, having become the fastest batsman to reach 1,000 Test runs for Bangladesh last year.

Mominul became the seventh batsman afterEverton Weekes, Alec Stewart, Matthew Hayden, Jacques Kallis, Simon Katich and Kumar Sangakkara to have 50-plus scores in nine consecutive Tests. He is also only the fourth batsman after Weekes, Sunil Gavaskar and Mark Taylor to score 50-plus eleven times in his first 12 Tests.

But since the Test series against Zimbabwe ended in November 2014, Bangladesh have only thought in terms of ODIs. After his twin failures in the World Cup and with Soumya Sarkar grabbing the opportunity at No 3, it was coach Chandika Hathurusingha who indicated that Mominul has to wait for his chance as Sarkar has been convincing in the position.

"Mominul has to wait at this stage," Hathurusingha said in Sydney in March. "I think you will see a lot more of Soumya [Sarkar] than Mominul [Haque] at No 3. Mominul is our next batter in the squad. Going forward, he can play a role in one-day cricket. He is a very good player, but he is not suitable for our combination at this stage."

Mominul said he was working on the coach's instructions without revealing what he was told. "I don't want to talk about my problems," Mominul said. "I am working on them and the coach has given me a few instructions. Hopefully when I will start to improve, everyone will notice. I think if I work a little harder I can expand my repertoire. I need to increase my strike-rate."

He knows what is expected of him, and a result of this was seen during the Bangladesh Cricket League final on Sunday. He led East Zone to the inaugural title with a 77-ball 78, including ten boundaries, in a stiff chase which became a bit complicated after the rain delay. In the first Powerplay, he played with the usual poise, middling the ball and finding the gaps with his ease.

"The tournament was really good. I managed to score some runs in the final," he said. "Good innings like these always give you confidence. Confidence at this point of time is really important for me and having done well in that innings, it has improved a lot.

"I am trying to learn the art of one-day cricket, to increase my strike-rate. I am trying to bat this way. When I was in Australia, the coach told me that you play well in Test cricket… You will need a bit more time in one-day cricket."

Mominul doesn't believe the issues he faces are due to a lack of mental toughness. He said he has learnt to shut out the criticism.

"When someone plays well everyone will say good things about him. And when someone does badly, many will raise their voice," he said. "I always try to be a champion. And when someone wants to be the champion he needs to avoid all these talks."