Dream come true, says Afghanistan's first Test centurion Rahmat Shah

Rahmat Shah drives through the off side AFP

In Afghanistan's captaincy drama this year, Rahmat Shah ended up leading the side in not a single Test match after being named captain of the format. That's right. He was appointed to the role in their leadership reshuffle in April, and Rashid Khan replaced him in July. Going by what he achieved today in Chattogram, becoming Afghanistan's first Test centurion, any regret over losing the phantom captaincy is clearly not affecting his game.

Rahmat's 163-ball innings was an example of how he can balance batting patiently and pouncing on bad balls. He dragged the side out of trouble in the early part of the second session, and then slowly built their total. After his dismissal in the final session, Asghar Afghan thwarted another batting collapse and seemingly took them to safety.

At the end of the day, Rahmat said that his 102 helped him overcome the grief of falling on 98 in their last Test, against Ireland in Dehradun. He said that he had to adjust to the Bangladesh spinners' lengths, which forced him to use his crease, apart from defending well off the front foot.

"I was dreaming to become the first century-maker for Afghanistan," Rahmat said. "When I got out for 98 against Ireland, I was really upset. Today I got the chance to score the hundred. It is a proud moment for me. I also got the first Test fifty for Afghanistan and now I am the first century-maker.

"They were bowling well so it was my plan to play off the front foot. They had a good field set-up for me. I was forced to use the crease as well, as there wasn't a lot of run-scoring opportunity. We know they are good spinners, especially Shakib Al Hasan. Mehidy Hasan and Taijul Islam. We have a mindset [to tackle] the fast bowlers, but they have spinners."

Rahmat said that the Afghans must use experience from the Intercontinental Cup to fill in for their lack of Test exposure. "We have played a lot of limited-overs cricket but we have also played a lot of [four-day first-class] matches in the Intercontinental Cup. We have won it twice. There's not a big difference between four- and five-day cricket," he said.

Batsmen like Rahmat, Afghan and Hashmatullah Shahidi will slowly break the mould of the happy-go-lucky style of Afghan batting. With batting stability, their bowling attack will become more potent. Rahmat is a definite match-winner, and he has proven so for the last three years. Sixteen out of his 21 fifty-plus scores have come in Afghanistan's wins in international cricket.

His 98 and 76 played a big part during their maiden Test win against Ireland, while his 72 helped them to their first win against Sri Lanka last year in the Asia Cup. He struck fifties against West Indies in the World Cup qualifier last year too, as well as putting in big performances against Ireland and Zimbabwe in 2017.

He made an unbeaten 108 in the fifth ODI against Ireland in Noida, having made 78 and 68 in the previous matches. Against Zimbabwe in the same year, Rahmat had scores of 114, 56 and 59.

Yet, you don't hear much about him. He isn't a T20 regular like Rashid Khan or Mohammad Nabi, he isn't a larger-than-life character like Mohammad Shahzad.

But Rahmat has etched his name forever in Afghanistan cricket team's history and, given how he bats so responsibly at No. 3, the milestone couldn't have gone to a better candidate.