It is a common trend in Bangladesh cricket that players start their career in great fashion but fail to continue the momentum before getting washed away from the scene. There are numerous examples of players like Marshal Ayub, Shamsur Rahman and Abul Hasan who made a solid debut but later found themselves out of favour due to inconsistent performances.
Similarly, Mominul Haque, in his only innings in his debut Test match against Sri Lanka in Galle in 2013, showed glimpses of a class batsman, scoring 55, followed by knocks of 64 and 37 in the second Test in Colombo. However, he later failed to produce any fifties despite making good starts in both the innings of their Test defeat against Zimbabwe in Harare. The critics therefore, started to voice their displeasure about his future.
But the left-hander stuck to his basics and did not pay any heed to what the others were saying. He slowly but surely started to prove his potential by scoring a scintillating 181 against his favourite opposition New Zealand at his favourite ground - Chittagong. He kept going and scored at least a half century in the next 10 matches. Every time he scored significant runs, the fans dreaded as to when his run of good form will end. Mominul though came up trumps and proved them wrong with his willow.
In the context of Bangladesh, who are still struggling in red-ball cricket after getting the Test status back in 2000, boasting this type of a prolific career is like an oasis in a desert. There was a time in Mominul’s career when he had an astounding average of 63.9 after 24 Test innings, which was the second-highest in the history of Test cricket for players with a minimum of 20 innings.
Mominul is after all a human being. He soon started experiencing the other side of the coin, especially after Bangladesh entered the coaching era of Chandika Hathurusingha. He missed AB de Villiers’ record of scoring fifties in 12 consecutive Tests when he got out 10 shy of posting another half-century against South Africa in Chittagong.
In his 18 Tests under Hathurusingha, Mominul scored 1000-odd runs, including a century, at an average of 33.9 while in the other eight matches he has five centuries to his credit at an average of 86.33. Also, Mominul was a regular player in the ODI team early in his career but did not register any significant performances. Following Hathurusingha’s arrival, his limited-over performances became worse and lately, he has been totally out of the reckoning.
The influence of Hathurusingha therefore is quite visible and significant in Mominul’s career. He even got dropped from the Test squad against Australia last year but was somehow included in the last moment.
And just after the exit of the Sri Lankan coach, Mominul posted the perfect riposte to his former coach when he made history by becoming the first ever Bangladeshi to score centuries in both innings of a Test against Hathurusingha’s charges in Chittagong last week. His knocks of 176 and 105 went a long way in ensuring the Tigers would go on to draw the Test, despite being on the backfoot heading into the fifth and final day’s play.
According to many, his celebration in the first innings was a reply to his former coach although Mominul is yet to comment on that.
When everything’s said and done, no doubt the Bangladesh fans would be hoping for more such celebrations from the diminutive batsman, who is revered across the cricket world for his consistency and composure when the going gets tough. And long may he continue to represent Bangladesh with distinction.
* The stats have been updated till the first Test between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Chittagong