Bashar pat for Rahim
The forgetful night of March 23, 2016 in Bangalore was still fresh in Bangladeshi minds when Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad were at the crease at the Kotla on Sunday.
But then those mistakes “happen just once”, says Bangladesh selector and former captain Habibul Bashar, lavishing praise on Rahim and his temperament.
Rahim and stand-in captain Mahmudullah ensured that the ghosts of March 23, 2016 were buried. Three years ago, despite the duo being at the crease then, Bangladesh failed to get just two off the last three balls against India in a World T20 group-phase game. But on this occasion, both stayed till the end to seal the deal.
“Shakib-al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal are the first names that come to the mind of most when talking about Bangladesh’s batting. But one has to agree that in terms of temperament as well as consistency, Mushfiqur probably stands out.
“Across all the three formats, he has been performing. Now because he is also a wicketkeeper, his batting credentials get unnoticed on certain occasions. He has to take that extra pressure if he is ’keeping,” Bashar, who’s there with the Bangladesh squad, told The Telegraph from Rajkot on Monday.
Rahim, last month, had said he would not be wicketkeeping in Tests in order to prolong his career across formats. Supporting his decision, Bashar said that the 32-year-old would be promoted up the batting order in the longest version and it starts from the upcoming two-Test series against India.
“Playing as a wicketkeeper-batsman in Test cricket, Mushfiqur has had to bat at No. 6 on most occasions. That didn’t give him enough time to play a long or even build an innings.
“So now that he has decided to no longer stand behind the stumps, he can move up to No. 4 or 5 in the batting order. In fact, that’s the idea behind giving up his ’keeping duties.
“So, it’s a correct decision. From the India Tests itself he will be moving up the order and we hope he will be able to come up with even bigger contributions,” Bashar explained.
Bashar partly agreed that Rahim will have to lead from the front in the two Tests, especially in the pink-ball Test at Eden Gardens, with Shakib and Tamim absent. “Obviously, he is a senior player and with his experience, he’ll be able to guide the others as well.
“Having said that, the rest too need to step up and we believe they will… Look, it’s about staying positive… Even India don’t have the experience of playing international cricket with the pink ball, so that evens things out quite a bit.”
Leading 1-0 in the ongoing T20I series, will Bangladesh be able to create history by winning the next game too and wrapping up the series? “Winning the first game shows the players are in a better frame of mind. The job is still half done, but yes, this is our best chance,” Bashar replied.