Match Analysis

A Mominul innings worth celebrating

Bangladesh's No. 3 batter breaks out of his rut with 84 off 157 against India in Dhaka

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
There was hardly a murmur from Mominul Haque after he had reached his first half-century in 11 months. You couldn't plainly say that he was relieved, but breaking a run of 10 innings without a double-digit score must have felt good. The crowd at the Shere Bangla National Stadium certainly celebrated the milestone, but Mominul has never been an expressive person. He'd rather do his business and quietly fade into the background. But that was also not happening for most of the year.
People started to feel bad for him. He had been dropped for only the second time in his career. He had to give up the Test captaincy. He never looked too interested in dealing with the off-field trappings of leadership.
Before going out to bat today, he had made 166 runs at 13.83, his lowest batting average in a year, which meant that after being brought back into the side in Dhaka for this game, Mominul needed this innings; this 84 off 157.
He was out of form for an unusually long period despite being regarded as arguably Bangladesh's best Test batter. He has the most centuries, he is someone whose consistency was a rarity for a long time. In his first two years at this level, Mominul struck 11 successive fifties, heralding a new era for Bangladesh batters.
There were signs of the old Mominul in Dhaka today, particularly in the way he grafted for most of his innings. He started scratchily. The ball took both edges, some of them dodging the stumps and some of them falling in front of fielders. But with time, the middle of his bat got a lot more play. In the second session, he was regularly picking up singles and slowly finding a few more boundaries.
Mominul attacked maybe two or three zones in the field. He guided the ball well through third man, getting half of his 12 fours through that region. He struck four boundaries through midwicket, but generally went with an open face of the bat to milk the Indian bowlers.
He struck R Ashwin for a six over midwicket too, but it would be the stroke over cover that would the pick of his highlight reel. Mominul went inside out against the offspinner, the ball going for a one-bounce four.
Jamie Siddons, Bangladesh's batting coach who has been regularly working with Mominul for the last couple of months, said that the difference between this 84 and the rest of his innings in 2022 was his mentality.
"I think he had a more positive approach to the game rather than thinking he was going to get bad balls," Siddons said. "He was thinking I am going to score today. You have a better chance of having success when you do that. In the recent past he was thinking about when he will get a good ball rather than when is the next run I was going to get.
"It is a mental switch. We freed him up throughout the week. We let him have a bit of fun in his batting. Hit some balls hard. It was more a T20 approach. I don't know if it helped him or not but he played some shots and had a lot of success. Shame he didn't get a hundred."
Siddons said that Mominul didn't play in Chattogram because Bangladesh wanted him to take some time off. "It is the selectors' decision, but Mominul didn't score over 10 runs in the four innings for Bangladesh A. We gave him a rest. We had to work on a few things in Chattogram.
"We gave him a bit of time to get back into the swing of things, and forget about those failures. Get ready to play again. Our No. 3 spot is a worry, so we put him in. It worked really today. He played fantastic."
Mominul is one of only two batters to score three Test hundreds here, so he knew what he had to deal with on this Dhaka pitch. It was a more or less a typical Mominul innings with much of his runs coming behind the wicket as he used the bowler's pace to his advantage.
He is one of those rare Bangladesh batters who forces the bowler to be at their best; to consistently deliver their best balls if they want to get him out. Which is why his returns in 2022 are so weird. During this period, pace bowlers took turns to get him out with all kinds of deliveries. Inswingers, outswingers, leg-cutters and reverse-swing. His luck didn't change much in the domestic first-class competition, making just a single fifty in four innings in this season's NCL, before failing miserably in the two unofficial Tests against India A, just 42 runs in four innings.
Mominul's sequence of single-digit scores this year not only tested the man, but the team as well. Bangladesh's batting revolves around their No. 3, so when the fulcrum didn't function properly, it had a chain reaction on the rest of the batting order. It is for this reason that this half-century against India is worth celebrating. It has been a tough year for Bangladesh, but now, just as it is ending, it has offered something precious.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84