Mohammad Mithun‘s calm under pressure pleased Mushfiqur Rahim during their 144-run fourth-wicket stand that brought Bangladesh back from a disastrous 12 for 3 against Pakistan. Mushfiqur guided Mithun through the initial few overs, but once the early blows were softened, the pair raised the run rate during the middle period.
The partnership was much like a reprise of their 131-run third-wicket stand against Sri Lanka in the tournament opener. On that occasion, Bangladesh had lost two wickets in the first over, and Tamim Iqbal had to retire hurt in the second over.
“He is a very positive guy,” Mushfiqur said of Mithun. “So I can’t tell him to play for the dot balls. I told him to back himself and make sure that in the first five-six overs, we just assess the situation, don’t worry about the run rate. We have from the 11th till 40th overs with one fielder up, and you can easily target one bowler and you can easily have some boundaries over there.
“I think the wicket was a pretty good one, so no need to take any undue risks. He complemented me very well and I really enjoyed the way I talked with him and batted with him both times.”
After Mithun fell in the sixties again – he was dismissed for 63 against Sri Lanka – Bangladesh wobbled, losing Imrul Kayes, before Mushfiqur was caught behind off Shaheen Afridi on 99. The look on his face said it all, but Mushfiqur said that winning the game took away the pain of missing out on a century.
“To be honest, after winning, I am not hurting anymore. I always believe that the team comes first. This is not just lip service. It comes from my heart.
“My disappointment was heightened because, as I kept saying after coming into the dressing room, a set batsman should bat at least until the 48th over, because the bowling quality they have even at the death, it is not easy to hit when you are new to the crease.
“We hardly scored 100 runs in the last 20 overs. We scored around 110. So it was obviously disappointing for me. I think the team winning is most important.”
He highlighted that Mashrafe Mortaza’s stunning catch to send back Shoaib Malik was the turning point in their defence of a modest total. “Shoaib bhai is their team’s most important and consistent player. Obviously, it was important for us to get him out quickly. And in this old age, Allah has given us the ability to take one or two good catches,” he said.
Mushfiqur said that the motivating factor was playing well without Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, and the message was driven into the rest of the team. “Tamim and Shakib are not there, but we just told the boys that someone can put their hands up and in these kinds of matches, if you can pull it off, then you will learn a lot from these types of situations.”