Seniors need to set the tone for tougher challenges

What was missing in the BCB President’s Cup in the first two matches was found to some extent in the third match of the 50-over tournament between Najmul XI and Tamim XI at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Thursday. The bats of Mahedi Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim did some talking, bringing some welcome runs to a tournament that had till then been starving for substantial scores.

The reliable Mushfiqur is supposed to score runs– that is what is considered normal by fans of Bangladesh cricket. And hence, seeing Mushfiqur, the only wicketkeeper-batsman in the world with two Test double hundreds, notch the first century of the tournament was not an unexpected outcome for fans who often see the seasoned batsman coming up with match-winning knocks against much tougher opponents at international level.

It was however also expected that the 33-year-old would play till the end and see Najmul XI through. But that he could not would bug the experienced campaigner more than anyone else.

When Mushfiqur decided to scoop Mustafizur Rahman in the 45th over only to be caught by Mahedi at backward point, he had as many as 34 balls to help his team get the rest of the 49 runs. And with Mushfiqur set on 103, there would not have been many who would bet against him getting those runs.

But the defeat that followed Muhfiqur’s decision to scoop Mustafizur would not have been as agonising as it would have been if it were a high voltage international match, and that too is to be expected given that this is an intra-squad tournament. Fans and selectors were probably happy that the batsmen have finally started getting runs and begun to shed the rust accumulated over the seven-month halt from cricket.

However, would the scenes be similar had this happened during an international match with much more than just a defeat at a local tournament at stake? The answer is probably known better to Mushfiqur, whose choice of shot once saw Bangladesh suffer a one-run defeat against India in a 2016 World T20 encounter in Bengaluru — a defeat that was later labelled by Mushfiqur as one of his ‘biggest disappointments’ in his long cricketing career.

The tournament is meant as a way back to cricket for players who had been out of action since the coronavirus-enforced halt back in March. In that sense, the tournament also serves as a means for players to amend mistakes and work on those so that they do not repeat those when the stakes will be higher and the repercussions will be much more costly.

And as far as not making it a habit to repeat poor shots, Bangladesh ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal could also take note for not repeating the mistake he made in Thursday’s game. Young off-spinner Nayeem Hasan was able to lure the experienced opener into a big stride forward to a ball that was turning away outside off stump and Tamim followed the ball, resulting in a nick that was taken brilliantly at slip. While Nayeem should get credit for the ball, Tamim should be a little disappointed for wasting a start — 33 off 45 balls — by playing away from his body.

And with the setting of the tournament being such that the young players are now living and playing more closely than ever with their seniors, it is much more important for stars like Mushfiqur and Tamim to make statements that would be ideal examples for juniors to follow.


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