Mushfiqur’s favourite opposition

The Daily Star  April 17, 2021

A lot will depend on ‘Mr Dependable’ Mushfiqur Rahim when Bangladesh take on Sri Lanka in the two-match Test series on their tour of the island nation this month.

Bangladesh’s recent performances in all three formats were disappointing, with the performance graph in the longest format the most concerning for the team management.

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The 2-0 whitewash against an inexperienced West Indies side at home soil earlier this year came as a huge reality check for Bangladesh in regards to their approach in Test format.

Although Mushfiqur has been the most consistent performer for the Tigers across all formats, the experienced cricketer has been in hot water for his wicket-keeping skills in the recent limited-overs tour of New Zealand.

The 33-year-old did hand over his wicket-keeping gloves to Liton Das in the longest format. Despite that lessened responsibility, Mushfiqur will have a huge role to play as a batsman in the middle order in Sri Lanka.

As a keeper, Mushfiqur has scored 3515 in Tests runs in 104 innings at an average of 37.00, including includes six centuries and 16 fifties. Playing only as a batsman for the Tigers in Tests, Mushfiqur has scored 1022 runs in 30 innings at an average of 35.24 which includes one hundred and six fifties.

Known as one of the most dedicated cricketers in the Bangladesh camp, Mushfiqur’s lively presence will also make a huge impact on the overall approach of the team. Mushfiqur can also take a lot of positives from the fact that he is the second-highest run-getter after Mohammad Ashraful in Tests against Sri Lanka.

The highest run-getter for Bangladesh in Tests, Mushfiqur has developed himself as a world-class batsman over the past few years. He has three double hundreds under his belt — most by a Bangladeshi in the longest format, two of those since 2018 batting at number five.

Interestingly, Mushfiqur’s maiden double ton came against Sri Lanka back in 2013 at Galle which was also the first-ever double hundred scored by a Bangladeshi in the longest format. It was also the only time when Bangladesh managed to draw a Test match against Sri Lanka courtesy of Mushfiqur’s sublime knock.

Sri Lanka has always remained Mushfiqur’s favourite opponents as he scored 895 runs in 24 innings at an average of 42.61 in the island nation, most runs he scored against any opposition in the longest format.

It will be crucial for the Tigers’ team management to utilise the most of Mushfiqur, who scored 1092 runs in 23 innings at an average of 54.60, including two centuries and six fifties, batting at number five.

In absence of Shakib AL Hasan and Mahmudullah Riyad, it is Mushfiqur who will have to shoulder the responsibility and guide a relatively inexperienced Bangladesh batting line-up in the upcoming series.

It was under Mushfiqur’s captaincy that Bangladesh managed to win a Test match against their Sri Lankan counterparts, back in 2017 on their historic 100th Test.

And perhaps skipper Mominul Haque can take some valuable inputs from the experienced Mushfiqur to re-write history this time around.


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