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Match Analysis

Mominul Haque cements Test standing, one record at a time

His 10th Test ton took him past Tamim Iqbal for most centuries by a Bangladesh batsman

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Mominul Haque now has seven Test centuries in Chattogram  •  BCB

Mominul Haque now has seven Test centuries in Chattogram  •  BCB

By reaching his 10th Test century, Mominul Haque now holds a significant record in Bangladesh cricket.
Haque will be tussling with Tamim Iqbal for the top position for most Test tons for a few more years, just like Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim are neck-and-neck for Bangladesh's most Test runs. Bangladesh's highest individual Test score has also exchanged hands quite a few times between Rahim, Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan.
Iqbal is currently in top position among Bangladesh's ODI run-makers and centurions, with Shakib and Rahim not too far behind. These three names feature in nearly every Bangladeshi batting chart, but Haque is closing in. He has valuable milestones to his name, and two in particular that were unheard of before Haque got them.
With his ton at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Haque is now tied with Michael Clarke (Adelaide Oval), Mahela Jayawardene (Galle) and Kumar Sangakkara (Galle) for scoring seven centuries a single ground. Among current players, he is best placed to challenge the world record. Haque also got near the top of another record with his eleven fifties in consecutive Tests from 2013 to 2015. In addition, he is Bangladesh's highest scorer in Tests since his debut, and holds the Bangladesh record for most runs in a two-match Test series. He is Bangladesh's highest run-getter at No. 4 and second highest at No. 3, also having the most hundreds in both positions.
For most Test teams, these are highly valued records. But most teams play far more Tests than Bangladesh where one-day cricket is favoured. Still, Haque's contribution in red-ball cricket cannot be overstated enough; all of his previous Test hundreds have come in Bangladesh wins or draws .
On the third afternoon in Chattogram, Haque walked in with his team having lost two wickets for just one run. They had a handsome first-innings lead but another batting collapse would have handed West Indies the advantage. Going by how both batting line-ups looked to be heading towards a freefall, Haque's innings was priceless.
He saw off the two major threats to his batting: fast short-pitched deliveries and orthodox offspin. He tackled both Shannon Gabriel and Rakheem Cornwall in tandem. Notwithstanding the Shadman Islam dismissal to a peach of a bouncer, Haque's own survival till stumps on the third evening itself was a huge boost to the team.
Bangladesh were actually thinking of a 250-plus lead as West Indies' fourth-innings target, but by the time Haque added 133 for the fifth wicket with Liton Das, the lead had swelled to more than 375.
Cornwall, who couldn't dislodge Haque having bowled 90 deliveries to him in a long tussle, said that the left-hander forced him to bowl to his strengths.
"I think he played spin well. I think he hangs back a lot, forcing me to bowl a bit fuller and bowl to his strength. We just have to keep working. There's another Test coming up so we know how to bowl to him," Cornwall said.
Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo said that Haque gave them the sound platform needed to win a Test match.
"He has been fantastic. He has back-to-back hundreds. In the last Test in February last year, he got a hundred against Zimbabwe in Dhaka," he said. "He has backed it up with another good hundred today. He has set the game really well for us, so we are very pleased with the way he is playing at the moment."
Haque's pragmatic approach, in which he often sacrifices style over substance, is one of the major ways he has distinguished himself from other flashier Bangladesh batsmen of his generation. He has worked out ways to tackle the short ball, as well as a perceived weakness against offspin, and yet has kept his shape as a largely positive batsman. His average strike-rate in Test hundreds is 65.
By moving into the higher stratums of Bangladesh's batting, he has also left daylight between himself and those who, like him, made their Test debuts since 2011. Forget about 10 hundreds, only Shamsur Rahman and Soumya Sarkar have made a Test century each batting in the top six from that list.
Among the batsmen other than Iqbal, Rahim and Shakib in the current Bangladesh line-up, Das, who made his debut in 2015 with a huge billing as the next big thing in Bangladesh cricket, has so far made six fifties in his 21 Tests. Najmul Hossain Shanto, who now has supplanted Haque as the Test No. 3 just because he showed promise in domestic cricket, has hit a single half-century in five Tests over four years. Shadman Islam is in the revolving door of Iqbal's opening partner, having returned to the team in this game with a second half-century.
Haque has showed that through sheer will and mindfulness that a young Bangladeshi player can rise through the ranks to not just to be an international cricketer, but to give the seniors in the side a run for their money. This, despite being tagged as a Test-only cricketer who is yet to make a real mark away from home. When he had scored his sixth hundred at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, the running joke was that a stadium should be named after him. Maybe now a serious thought that can be given to the matter.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84