Mominul targets runs, not spotlight

Mominul Haque plays a cut shot AFP

Normally when a Bangladesh batsman makes a 50-plus score on Test debut, the attention he gets can become hard to handle. Just ask Abul Hasan, the tailender who made a century on debut last November. Mominul Haque's 55 in the first innings in Galle however didn't put him in the spotlight, as the fans and the media feted the drawn Test match as well as Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Ashraful and Nasir Hossain.

The lack of attention suits Mominul who likes to keep things quiet. He goes about his business in training without much fuss. He bats in a similar fashion, calling on very little attention with his stroke play or mannerisms. There is no puffing of the chest, no extravagant stretching when first at the crease. Asked if he took a look at the wicket at the R Premadasa Stadium, he said he doesn't understand what wickets do. He only prepares himself to bat.

The focus was on him, though, on the second evening of the Galle Test, when he came out for his first Test innings with Bangladesh trailing Sri Lanka by a huge margin.

"I wasn't too nervous but I was really enjoying batting out there," Mominul told ESPNcricinfo. "If you enjoy something, the nervousness goes away.

"I liked batting with Ashraful bhai. He gave me a lot of encouragement when we were building a partnership. Even in the practice match where we batted together for a long time, he helped me."

Mominul was being tipped as a Test player for more than a year now, with a call-up looming during the home Tests against Pakistan in December 2011. The national selectors wanted to give him more time to prepare in the domestic circuit, as well as have a few more A-team tours under the belt. Part of the problem was that he hadn't played a series of first-class matches in a single season. That changed in the 2012-13 season, when he played eight matches averaging 40.27 scoring two centuries.

"There is a lot of difference between first-class and Test cricket. I thought there were overs when I didn't face a single bad ball. I have to wait for the bad ball, and sometimes forcefully play a shot off the good ball.

"You need a high level of concentration, because you are not getting to play bad balls regularly. In first-class cricket you get 3-4 bad balls per over and you can decide when to hit a boundary. That relaxes you. But here you have to look for the boundary ball, wait for it."

Mominul's other advantage, so to speak, has been the relative poor form he had during the Bangladesh Premier League. He had very little to do for Sylhet Royals, keeping him relatively fresh for the Sri Lanka tour. Many of the Bangladesh players, young and the not so young, have suffered fatigue, minor and major injuries during and after the Twenty20 competition.

He wouldn't however get drawn into the question of whether he likes the format or not. For now, he is focusing on how to make a better score than the 55 he got in Galle.

"I want to score big. I want to make more than I made in the first innings," he says. The Bangladesh team welcomes such a mindset, and Mominul would welcome another attention-free Test match.