Little Mushfiq relishes big challenge

Named Bangladesh captain; Riyad his deputy
“The whispers turned into reality today,” was the instant reaction from wicketkeeper batsman Mushfiqur Rahim as he talked to the Daily Star Sport immediately after the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) declared the little man the Tigers’ new captain and all-rounder Mahmudullah Riyad as his deputy on Tuesday.
Following the removal of Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, there was no other choice for the game’s governing body but to name the 23-year old Bogra-lad — who is one of few players in the team whose place in the playing eleven is confirmed — the new skipper to lead the team in the upcoming home series against West Indies and Pakistan.
So understandably, the announcement did not come as a big surprise for the young man, who has had the experience of leading the Under-19 team in the 2006 World Cup where his national team predecessor Shakib played under his captaincy. “I’m really delighted as this is the ultimate honour for any cricketer,” said Mushfiqur with a smile.
Like many other cricketers Mushfiqur dreamt of leading the national team but the honour has come his way earlier than he expected because of the board’s ‘whimsical’ decision of sacking Shakib and Tamim from their posts following Bangladesh’s dismal show in the recently concluded tour of Zimbabwe.
“I must thank the board for giving me the responsibility and I will try my best to serve my country. I know it’s a big challenge for me and I am ready to take on the challenge. I hope I will get full support not only from the board but also from my colleagues and coaching staffs,” responded Mushfiqur, who has so far played 24 Tests and 98 one-day internationals, when asked whether the captaincy came his way earlier than expected.
The soft-spoken Mushfiqur was also very much aware of the fact that it would not be an easy task for him to lead an improving team like Bangladesh.
“I am fully aware of the expectations. I am confident that I will be able to take the team to new heights. We had been playing good cricket for the last two years, but we failed to perform against Zimbabwe in the last series as a unit. My first job would be to inspire the team so that we can bounce back from the dismal showing. And I’m hopeful about the coming series if we can play as a unit,” hoped the new Bangladesh captain.
The general feeling is that Mushfiqur, who was once removed from the vice-captaincy due to an alleged attitude problem, is a bit of an introvert, a trait that may not be ideal for captaincy but the man himself was little worried about that. “I always love to take on challenges and I am really excited to prove my credentials as a captain. True, I don’t talk too much but that doesn’t mean I will not talk when it is required,” explained the Bogra-lad.
Shakib was exceptional in that his captaincy role hardly hindered his own performance, and Mushfiqur was also confident that the third and most crucial role, in addition to wicketkeeping and batting, will not be an extra burden for him.
“I believe this new challenge will make me more confident so I am little worried. As a team we are improving and you see there are a number of players in the team who can win the match for us. So, I am really confident with the team,” said a confident Mushfiqur, who once again said that this is the most disciplined team in the world.
Mushfiqur also sought full freedom as captain.
“In cricket, the captain has a big role. Definitely I will try to share everything but I love to enjoy full freedom as a captain,” said Mushfiqur.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting is his role model, but Mushfiqur knows he does not have the same weapons as his idol. “And here lies the challenge for me,” finished the little man, who wants to emerge as big as one can be as a skipper.

-With The Daily Star input

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