One man standing, Mushfiqur Rahim

Bangladesh’s tour of India ended in disappointment but Mushfiqur batted on a different wicket with immense grit and mental strength.

While the other Bangladeshi batsmen struggled against the Indian quicks, Mushfiqur Rahim put up a resistance alongside Mahmudullah.   -  K.R. Deepak

All short men have legendary traits. Long story cut short, Mushfiqur Rahim is a legend of his own. He built his own school of cricket. He even wants to do a PhD on the sport next. Collecting experiences since 2005, the little man from Bogra must be proud of his Test temperament.

He is the only Bangladesh batsman who was batting on a different pitch in the dismal tour of India. Fearless, gritty and technically sound, Mushfiqur was the real tiger at the Eden Gardens on Saturday.

When he came into bat at 9/3, the tourists had to survive at least two more hours to stretch the game to the next day. The merciless Indian quicks had already caused two concussion cases in the Test match. The helmet bangers were beyond control as the wayward pink ball wouldn’t calm down. Bangladesh didn’t have enough in its reserves, so Mushfiqur had to be careful and bat on. 

Being ultra defensive, the openers had started leaving the balls even without gauging the length. Mushfiqur, sans panic and chaos, got off the mark in the very first ball from Umesh Yadav.

Imrul Kayes’ departure and Mahmudullah Riyadh’s entry pumped the little man’s adrenaline.

Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah’s wives are siblings. The brother-in-law attachment and chemistry led to joint lawlessness in the middle. The counterattack was straight out of the wild west; two men trying to fight for their country against quality pace bowling. Not afraid, not worried and determined not to throw it away. Both the families must have had a tense hour back home witnessing the battle on television.

Mushfiqur even survived a bouncer from Yadav.

Mahmudullah was scoring at almost run-a-ball. Taking a leaf out of his books, Mushfiqur started schooling Mohammed Shami. He smashed two quality deliveries to the boundary, first one through mid-on and the second one through cover point.

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The duo added 69 runs for the fifth wicket before Mahmudullah pulled his hamstring and had to limp off. They had salvaged the situation from 13/4 to 82/4.

Mushfiqur was stubborn. He wanted to bat for recovery. Even at the end of day two, when Bangladesh trailed India by 89 runs with four wickets in hand, the mood in the think tank was upbeat for Mushfiqur’s unbeaten 59. It can be ranked as one of the gusty innings in Test cricket, and that too under the lights. He finally got out for 74 the next day and the job was left undone. He ran out of partners but gained respect.

 

The strength of Mushfiqur

Mushfiqur methodically divides his training sessions into three phases - facing Bangladesh bowlers, practice with a net bowler, analysis session.   -  K.R. Deepak

 

Mushfiqur is mentally very strong. He inherited it from his mother, Rahima Khatun, who can’t talk. His bat talks on her behalf. People who are mute are adamant to make the impossible, possible. They like challenges on their way and that was evident from the batsman’s approach in the pink ball Test.

For the entire tour, Mushfiqur was away from media glare. Even at the nets in Indore, he would jump nets to confuse the cameramen who wanted to follow him. He divides his training into three sessions. First, he would face all the Bangladesh bowlers at the nets. That will be followed by a short break, and then, he will call a net bowler and pad up on a different practice wicket.

The third session is that of assessment and creating a zone. He would be seated on the first chair outside the dressing room to oversee the preparations. He would even yell an advice from afar to ensure a mistake is not repeated. If a player hits a six, he would encourage him to hit one more. “Mehidy, arekta maarte bol oke (Mehidy, ask him to hit one more),” he said while watching Liton Das bat at the nets before the day-night Test.

Initially, Mushfiqur would have people around — mostly the team physio and the manager — to sit back and analyse the session while it is on. But after a point, he would be alone, putting his head down to think, having water melons and getting excited occasionally.

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People in Bangladesh cricketing circles say that the wicketkeeper-batsman is leagues ahead for his eagerness to keep learning. He is also the most educated boy in the entire side. He graduated in history and also has an M.Phil.

Mushfiqur is meant for greater things, meant for more Test matches and against quality sides. That will be justice to the talent he is. He is used to being popular, and that gives him the strength to play a reverse sweep even when his side is staring at an innings defeat. He wants to return something to the spectators.

On the last day of his college at Jahangirnagar University, he was voted as the ‘rag king’ — a friendly honour bestowed on the most popular guy. Being the youngest of the family, he knows the essence of love. Some of his family members call him Phorshamona lovingly, which means a fair kid.

It has already been 14 years of international cricket; here’s hoping Bangladesh sees a fair future through the fair kid.

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