Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay – Mohammad Rafique is born - first Bangladeshi to bag 100 test scalps
September 5, 1970 - When Mohammad Rafique made his test debut, like the 10 other players who were part of Bangladesh's maiden test match against India at the Banglabandhu International Stadium in Dhaka in November 2000, it was a momentous occasion.
Rafique's test debut was made even more momentous when he dismissed Rahul Dravid as his first test scalp. Rafique picked up 3 wickets in the match and looked the part as he turned out to be the most economical of the Bangladesh bowlers.
In just his third test match in May 2003, Rafique bagged a six-wicket haul. Bangladesh had played only 19 tests by then and it was just the third 5-wicket haul for the country. His figures of 6/77 were also the best bowling figures by a Bangladeshi at that point.
Rafique grew in stature after that game as he bagged the prized scalps of Herschelle Gibbs, Boeta Dippenaar, Neil McKenzie, Mark Boucher, Alan Dawson and Paul Adams. Bangladesh still suffered a defeat by an innings and 18 runs in the match.
The best performance of his test career came against Australia in 2006 when Bangladesh gave Australia a huge scare by piling up 427 runs in their first innings. A 5-wicket haul from Mohammad Rafique from 32.2 overs including nine maidens at an economy of 1.91 was instrumental in skittling out Australia for just 269.
Bangladesh suffered a collapse in the second innings, getting dismissed for just 148 and despite 4 wickets from Rafique in the second innings, which reduced Australia to 277/7, the visitors scraped their way to a three-wicket victory.
The left-arm spinner started playing domestic cricket as a medium-pacer. He was playing for Biman Airlines when Wasim Haider, an overseas player from Pakistan, asked him to bowl spin.
"He [Wasim] asked me to bowl spin," Rafique says. "I was puzzled, but I bowled to him in the nets. Next day, in a match, I bowled five overs of pace before I was asked to try spin. I picked up wickets and that's it from that day I never went back to bowling fast. I enjoy bowling against the aggressive batsman. My bowling is all about control. I try to vary the amount of spin and the bounce."
Rafique was also handy with the bat and added 1059 runs in test cricket at 18.57. Apart from 4 half-centuries, he struck a three-figure score in test cricket - a 111 against West Indies at Gros Islet in 2004 which helped Bangladesh save the test match.
Rafique picked up two wickets in his 33rd and last test match to finish with exactly 100 wickets in test cricket. He thus became the first Bangladesh bowler to achieve the milestone. The left-arm spinner is also the first Bangladeshi to complete the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in both test cricket and ODIs.
Rafique played 3 ODI World Cups - in 1999, 2003 and 2007, the stand out of which was his 3 wickets against India at the Port of Spain in 2007 as he dismissed Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly to break the back of the Indian batting line-up.
Rafique picked up 125 wickets from as many ODIs at a bowling average of 37.91 and an economy of 4.43 and also contributed with 1191 runs at 13.38. Like most players, Rafique wanted to play on but had to retire after not being picked in 2008.
He tried to extend his competitive career by joining the rebel Indian Cricket League. Due to the decision, he was slapped a 10-year ban by the BCB, but he quit ICL in 2009.
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