June 18th 2005, Cardiff. Mashrafe Mortaza charges in to none other than Adam Gilchrist for the second ball of the game. He raps him on the pads as Gilly attempts a bread-and-butter flick on the leg side. But the ball is quicker than he expected, and straightens instead of angling across. Plumb LBW. Gilly walks. Hayden, Ponting, Martyn, and Hussey are limited to 246/9.
Mohammad Ashraful hits 100 (101) with help from skipper Habibul Bashar and Aftab Ahmed, who chip in with 47 (72) and 21*(13) respectively.
David had just beaten Goliath with 5 balls to spare!
Every non-Australian fan felt a unique sense of elation that they will never feel again. I challenge you to name a bigger fairy-tale upset in the history of cricket. Maybe Kenya vs Sri Lanka at the 2003 World Cup?
In any case, Mashrafe, the current ODI and T20 captain, is the only surviving member of the Bangladesh team from that day. Unlike Habibul Bashar, he has a wealth of riches to call upon in limited overs cricket. The same can be said for Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh’s Test skipper. With all due respect to the brave 2005 side, any member of this current team would walk into that XI.
It’s clear that Bangladesh’s ambitions, and the expectations of fans, have gone well above what they were back then. They aim higher and want trophies. There’s still some work to do in Test cricket but they are scary opponents in the shorter formats. They think bigger now.
But they’re missing a trick with Sabbir Rahman at number three. They need to think Kohli, Williamson, Root, Smith, or even three-time World Cup Winner, Ricky Ponting. They all bat at three in limited overs cricket for their respective countries, where they have the chance to face as many balls as possible and propel the game forward. They play risk-free cricket, yet score quickly, and build on their scores. They get big hundreds and their sides consistently register the largest scores and chase the toughest targets.
Enter Mosaddek Hossain, the Tigers’ best candidate for the number three position. Although it might be too early to promote him in Test Match Cricket, he can be groomed for the role in shorter-formats, where Sabbir Rahman’s talents could instead be utilized in the middle order.
There are no other obvious candidates for one of the most important positions in the batting order. Shakib cannot and does not want to bat at three given his bowling workload and his temperament. Mahmuddullah has not scored a century since the 2015 World Cup. Mushfiqur is more comfortable in the middle-order even when he is not keeping.
Sabbir Rahman, the Tiger’s current one drop in all formats, has a highest score of 65 in 41 combined innings of Test and ODI cricket. However, he has been pushed up to number three as he is viewed as a natural talent, who has worked on his temperament since his debut.
Although he has improved his rotation of strike, if he fails to register larger scores, specifically hundreds, he would be more useful at four or five. What if Shakib and Sabbir alternated to maintain a left-right combination at the crease? South Africa does it to great effect with AB De Villiers and JP Duminy.
This would force Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah, pioneers of Bangladesh’s dramatic rise in ODI’s, down to 6 and 7 in most games. This is a big call to make just to accommodate someone as inexperienced as Mosaddek Hossain. As far as Mushfiqur and Mahmuddulah are concerned, they can play pivotal roles as finishers.
This is not a farewell gift meant to thank some veterans for their role in dramatically improving Bangladesh’s ODI fortunes since the mid 2000’s; rather it’s a logical move, considering their exploits in the Bangladesh Premier League. They did, however, choke in an epic fashion against Hardik Pandya in their infamous 2016 World T20 encounter against India. Maybe they are worth the sacrifice.
If you’ve the 21 year-old Mossadek’s batting, however, you’re lucky because he’s always come in at 6 or lower across all formats, with the exception of one T20I game. More importantly, you would have witnessed his ability to get going from ball one, score at a good tempo, and even finish; all attributes you would expect from a successful one drop. Sabbir has those qualities, but does he have as many hundreds in him as Mosaddek? Statistics may not tell the entire picture, but Mosaddek’s First Class batting average of 67.36 is nearly twice that of Sabbir’s 34.44.
Add to that a fluent 75 on debut against Sri Lanka in Bangaldesh’s 100th Test, which helped Bangladesh draw the recent Test series 1-1, and his 24*(9), which pushed Bangladesh up to an insurmountable 324 off their 50 in the 1st ODI in Dambulla, and you can see why Dean Jones is trying to adopt him.
In all seriousness though, Mosaddek must be pushed up the order if Bangladesh hope to break batting records, which they cannot do without someone who scores big at number three. Number six is simply too low for someone who has been used as an off-spinning all-rounder until now. Although it has given him a chance to settle into international cricket, maybe now is the time for Bangladesh to maximize his potential at one of the most crucial positions in the line-up.
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