Sakib, Mushfiq – twin pillars of Tigers

A file photo from June 24, 2019 shows Bangladesh all-rounder Sakib al Hasan (R) celebrating one of his five wickets with team-mate Mushfiqur Rahim against Afghanistan during their ICC World Cup match in Southampton. — AFP photo

For the past numbers of years Bangladesh cricket team has revolved around five core cricketers, Mashrafee bin Murtaza, Sakib al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah, who are known as the ‘fantastic five’.

But with skipper Mashrafee on the verge of retirement from international cricket, Tamim facing a massive dip in form and Mahmudullah’s place in the XI getting questioned after an underwhelming World Cup campaign, Sakib and Mushfiq remain as the only players to hold onto their irreplaceable status in the Bangladesh team.

Incidentally, both of them made their one-day international debut together against Zimbabwe at Harare on this very day in 2006 and since then have been instrumental in Bangladesh’s rise in international cricket.

The duo first made their mark in international level after scoring fifties in Bangladesh’s famous victory against India in the 2007 ICC World Cup and since then has written the scripts for a number of historic wins for the Tigers.

Sakib made the dreams of Bangladeshi fans to see one of their own topping an ICC ranking reality when he, to the surprise of many, rose to the top of the ODI all-rounders list in 2009.

In 2019, exactly a decade later, Sakib still stands firm as the best all-rounder in the world in ODIs and second best in Tests and Twenty20 internationals, and also the only man to be ranked the best all-rounder in all three formats at the same time twice on 2015 and 2018.

If there was any doubt about Sakib’s supreme status as an all-rounder in world cricket, he blew them all away with his outrageous showing in the recently concluded World Cup in England.

The left-hander went out to bat eight times in the competition, scoring 50 plus in seven occasions with two consecutive centuries against England and West Indies to end up with 606 runs, the third highest in the competition, and raked in 11 wickets, including a five-wicket haul against Afghanistan.

Mushfiq, who has played the most matches for Bangladesh in all three formats, has dug Bangladesh out of tricky situations on countless times and has cemented his status as the most consistent run-scorer for Bangladesh, but that wasn’t always the case.

The keeper lost his position in the side after an early slump in his ODI career, when he only scored four runs in three matches in New Zealand against the Kiwis in 2008 with two ducks and was replaced by Dhiman Ghosh.

Dhiman, however, squandered his international career by joining the Indian Cricket League and Mushfiq made his way back to the ODI side and hasn’t looked back since.

Bangladesh began to see the best of Mushfiq from 2011, as the 32-year old has made 4640 runs in 132 ODIs since then, most by any Bangladeshi in this period.

In the recently concluded World Cup, Mushfiq remained in the shadow of Sakib, but had a decent enough campaign with 367 runs, including an unbeaten 102 against Australia.

Even in the horrid Sri Lanka tour following the World Cup, Mushfiq struck two fifties in three matches, to save Bangladesh from greater humiliation.

Mushfiq’s keeping has always faced some scrutiny, with him making some crucial errors in the recent past and also being too stubborn to let go of the role, but his commitment to the side and excellence as a batsman is undisputed.

The World Cup in England has given Bangladesh a reality check about their five mainstays with the remaining three not fulfilling the expectation on them and a revamp of the national maybe in cards with Sakib and Mushfiq only in the forefront.

 

Source: New age.

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