Matches (11)
WTC (1)
UAE v WI (1)
Continental Cup (1)
Vitality Blast (8)
Match Analysis

Mominul's consistency goes unnoticed

With 11 consecutive Test fifties, he has more than proved his worth to the team. Yet, there still remain doubts over his supposed problem against short-pitched bowling and his apparently low strike-rate

Bangladesh are likely to realise the value of Mominul Haque only when his run of fifties stop  •  AFP

Bangladesh are likely to realise the value of Mominul Haque only when his run of fifties stop  •  AFP

Even without his face hidden behind a visor, Mominul Haque can often be difficult to read, so when Asad Shafiq dived full length to take his catch at cover, you couldn't quite see the batsman's face. However, as his upper body dropped in disappointment and his head bowed, it was clear what little fight Bangladesh had in them had evaporated on the fourth day. Not that there many signs of a fight.
Mominul walked off after making 68. He has been getting at least one fifty-plus score in every Test since his 181 against New Zealand in 2013. Mominul now has a score of fifty or more in 11 consecutive Tests, joining an elite club of Viv Richards, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Only AB de Villiers has managed more, in 12 successive games, and Mominul will have a chance to catch the South African in the only Test against India next month. Mominul had also broken Bangladesh's record for successive fifties in Khulna last year with a 54 against Zimbabwe. Tamim Iqbal had made fifty-plus scores in seven successive matches in 2010.
Mominul's batting average is exactly 60.00, and there are very few players in Bangladesh's short history of Test cricket who has shown such stability in their first two years. He started off as a No. 4 batsman and since the Zimbabwe series last year, he has been batting at one-drop.
But there is very little focus on Mominul's consistency. Mushfiqur Rahim did not mention him even once in the post-match press conference on Saturday. There wasn't even so much as a question about him. Bangladesh will only know the value of Mominul's run of fifties when it ends.
In fact, Mominul himself does not want to talk about his scoring spree. After the first day of the first Test when he fought to make 80 on a low Khulna pitch, he was asked to comment on a tenth consecutive Test in which he scored a fifty. "I didn't know about this feat, and I don't even want to know," he said.
Mominul is a shy, soft-spoken individual. The world knows very little about him. Those who know him know that Mominul was born in Cox's Bazar and by the time he was a teenager, he was sent to study and learn cricket at the BKSP, Bangladesh's largest sporting institute. He came out as one of the brightest in his batch and after a couple of years of domestic cricket, he was picked in the senior team in 2012. All four of his Test hundreds have been either in wins or draws for Bangladesh. He remained unbeaten during three of those tons.
Apart from avoiding attention from his feat, the other reason why Mominul has regularly stopped short of talking about his consistency in Test cricket is because there is a lot more focus and questions about his batting in the limited overs format. Mominul is no longer an automatic choice in Bangladesh's ODI team, and the last time coach Chandika Hathurusingha was asked about his view on the batsman, he said that Soumya Sarkar's emergence in the top order will keep Mominul out.
Soumya has been a breath of fresh air with his stroke-play, particularly in the first Powerplay. His opening stands with Tamim in the ODI series against Pakistan would also have done enough to establish his spot in the side. He also impressed at No. 3 in the World Cup.
On the other hand, Mominul's lack of big numbers or flashy stroke-play in ODIs and T20s has meant very few people show interested in him. When he was among few batsmen failing in an ODI series against Zimbabwe in 2013, he was the first to be dropped. The same happened in the India and West Indies ODI series last year. He played one ODI against India, and none against West Indies.
There was also some whisper that he cannot handle short-pitched bowling, but in his career so far, he has not been dismissed once with a bouncer or a short ball. In Gros Islet last year, he failed once against Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel but made up for his first-innings 3 with a second-innings 56. It couldn't help Bangladesh avoid a large loss, but it showed Mominul knew how to handle short bowling.
Mominul has acknowledged that he has a problem with his strike-rate in limited-overs cricket, but a low strike-rate is common among Bangladesh batsmen considered aggressive. Nasir Hossain, Tamim and Mushfiqur all have strike-rate in the seventies like Mominul. The likes of Mahmudullah, Mohammad Ashraful and Anamul Haque have a lesser strike-rate despite playing more than Mominul. But still, only Mominul's batting is deemed slow, and he has missed 15 out of the 41 ODIs played since his debut in November 2012.
His lack of game time in ODIs means that he has to sit out a lot between Tests. Spending time on the bench also makes him miss domestic first-class cricket, his last match being in May last year for East Zone in the Bangladesh Cricket League. He was sent with Bangladesh A to the West Indies in mid-2014 and got a hundred in the second four-dayer there.
His fifties in the 11 consecutive Tests have come in 18 months and 26 days. It took Sehwag 10 months and 15 days, Richards a year and 26 days, Gambhir one year and three months to do the same. De Villiers reached 12 successive Test fifties in just over 14 months. It clearly shows that Mominul has had to bring back his focus after long gaps during which he was paused as a cricketer.
That doesn't mean he is being rated as well as any of these great batsmen, but it is hard to ignore Mominul has climbed steadily since the start of his international career. But in a country where only limited-overs cricket is held to the highest regard, Mominul has every reason to not feel appreciated.
And what is it that every Bangladesh cricketer, coach and official say of striving in international cricket? Consistency.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84