Mixing calm with aggression

“Whenever I face any difficulties in my batting or find it tough to face any bowler, I walk up to Mominul Haque for help,” Tamim Iqbal had told The Daily Star before the Test series.

The aggressive left-hander, who has emerged as the most consistent and prolific run-scorer for the Tigers over the past three years may have a few other questions to ask Mominul after witnessing his junior teammate’s flawless batting display.

Mominul’s innings yesterday was not just about proving a point or releasing pent-up frustration; it was also about the mental strength he showed in maintaining the same mentality from the time he walked out to bat till the moment he walked back, unbeaten on a 203-ball 175 with the help of 17 fours and a six.

When Mominul struck a majestic cover drive off pacer Lahiru Kumara for his first boundary of the innings he seemed to have sent a strong message to himself — do not let go of this opportunity.

There was aggression but he did not allow it to dominate common sense and despite hitting boundaries in almost every over, the left-hander remained careful while leaving the ball and watching it till the last minute, or while stretching forward to show respect to good deliveries.

Just after lunch, the 26-year-old struck consecutive boundaries off chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan — the first one was a handsome lofted off drive, the second one was the sign of a man on a mission – moving back seamlessly and muscling it over midwicket.

The pocket dynamite started to get into the groove as the day progressed and started to dominate the ‘wily old fox’ Rangana Herath Mominul, playing an elegant chip over mid-on to reach his fifty off 59 balls.

From the roll of his wrist over the ball to get on top of the bounce, to flashes onto his back foot to go the aerial route, it was all about a display of champion batsmanship that may have impressed even Chandika Hathurusingha who, during his tenure as the Tigers’ coach, would have noted that the batsman struggles against spin and especially off-spin. Apart from the spinners, the way he dealt with bouncers brushed aside another perceived weakness.

The innings was also about building a partnership with Mushfiqur Rahim, who provided good support from the other end to take the home side to a big total.

Mominul started to pace his innings with more aggression as he reached his fifty and when he entered the 90s, it seemed that a fire ignited inside him as he took no more than eight balls to reach his fifth Test hundred, hitting Sandakan for two successive boundaries – the second one a lofted extra-cover drive — to bring up Bangladesh’s second-fastest Test century off 96 balls.

Those who are familiar with Mominul’s usually subdued century celebrations will know that his animated celebration, running towards the boundary and leaping with a fist-pump before raising his bat, hinted at this particular ton meaning more to him than others.

But that was the only show of emotion from him, as he actually settled in after that and brought up his 150 off 170 balls. He then held firm through the dismissals of Mushfiqur and Liton Das and remains Bangladesh’s big hope for further glory today.

It is an innings from which, like Tamim, the rest of the dressing room will do well to take a cue.

Source: The Daily Star.

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