By becoming the first wicketkeeper from Bangladesh to score a century in ODIs, Mushfiqur Rahim has taken a step towards exorcising a long-held spectre.
The diminutive man from Bogra, who doggedly fought a lone battle in Tuesday’s five-run series-conceding loss at the Harare Sports Club, is slowly becoming an important cog for the Tigers, much like his predecessor Khaled Mashud, a figure who is still sometimes missed behind the stumps.
Mashud’s contribution, ever since he made his ODI debut in 1995, had been tremendous both behind and in front of the stumps.
From hitting that famous six in the ICC Trophy final to battling time after time during the first years of Test cricket, Mashud’s name is synonymous to a born fighter, especially for his strong-mindedness as well as his fitness.
Mashud has served Bangladesh cricket as both a wicketkeeper and a captain, though the latter never really brought him much success, but the man was often regarded as one of the best wicketkeepers in the world, especially for his diligence while tackling the spinners.
It wouldn’t be belittling the Rajshahi great if Mushfiqur is compared to him, though it has been done before. It was unfair to both at the time (when Mushfiqur replaced Mashud in the 2007 World Cup) as Mashud’s bat dried up and Mushfiqur was trying to make his mark and was a risk taken by then selection boss Faruque Ahmed.
Though both have a Test ton each to their names, now is a good time to measure them against each other since the incumbent has finally managed an ODI century, a mark that is quite important for an international batsman.
The innings of 101 was not just great to watch and inspiring, it was done at a correct pace and ticked most of the boxes (except for finishing the job). It is often seen that Mushfiqur struggles to bat with the tail and while the lower-order hardly obliged by helping him out, the 22-year-old hammered boundaries at will to keep the Tigers in the game.
He is often given the duty of handling the new ball, a task he so finely accomplished in the seminal victory over India in 2007. It is his batting technique that stands out and he has finally begun to find the gaps after some struggle during this year’s World Cup.
His work behind the stumps has been dodgy at times (he dropped Taibu on 41 in the third ODI), but his wicket-keeping has improved over the last year or so.
This is where Mashud can come in and continue his support for the man who screams and shouts to keep the Tigers going these days. A few sessions with the country’s best wicketkeeper would do Mushfiqur a world of good, given that he already works so hard.
For those who visit the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium regularly, Mushfiqur’s tireless training is a common sight. There is a belief that he wears himself out by doing too many intense training sessions all through the year, he has looked the part in the last three weeks and the best prepared among the 16 players on show.
A good wicketkeeper, much like a good umpire, is often asked to be invisible since they’re only noticed when they make a mistake. For Mushfiqur, it is a two-fold challenge. On the one side, he has already cemented a place as a batsman but what he would really want is to become another Mashud behind the stumps.
-With The Daily Star input