Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Mushfiqur Rahim is born - Bangladesh's cricketing powerhouse
June 09, 1987 - When Mushfiqur Rahim made his Test debut in 2005 against England at Lord's, he was only 16. This made him the youngest player to play a Test match at the Home of Cricket.
Apart from this, not much about his first few years in international cricket was remarkable. After playing his first Test on 26 May 2005, the next Test he played was after 10 months on 8 March 2006. The next Test came after a gap of more than one year on 3rd July 2007.
It was only in the beginning of 2008 that Rahim became a regular member of the Test team. His career took off a bit better in the ODIs after he scored his first half-century against Zimbabwe at Harare in 2007. This got him picked as Bangladesh's first-choice wicketkeeper ahead of Khaled Mashud for the 2007 ODI World Cup in the West Indies.
The wicketkeeper-batsman played a few useful knocks here and there but it took him six years since his debut to score his first ODI century which came against Zimbabwe in 2011. In Tests as well, more than five years after his debut, Rahim breached the 100-run milestone for the first time against India in 2010.
Inconsistency was one of the reasons why it took him so long to make a mark in international cricket. But that he was not given enough chances to bat in the top order is also well documented.
"At the beginning of my career, I didn't get much of a chance to bat in the top order like No. 3-4, not even at 5 or 6. I've played many times at No.7-8, even at No.9. To consistently perform at that position was so difficult for me as a new player. It was not like I was able to hit big or that I was 25-28 years of age. I performed consistently well at the top of the order for the Under-19 team and I had adapted to that role. However, coming into the national team, I had to bat in the late middle order or as a tail-ender which took me some time," Rahim explains the reason behind his inconsistency in the first few years of his international career.
It was only from 2014 onwards that Rahim began to come into his own. He averaged 44 in ODIs that year and till 2019 he has consistently averaged more than that, apart from an average of 39.60 in 2016 when he played only 7 matches.
In both 2018 and 2019, Rahim averaged over 50, scoring 10 half-centuries and two centuries in this period. Even in just the two ODIs that he played in 2020, he managed to score a half-century.
Much was written and said about Mushfiqur Rahim's commitment when he denied to tour Pakistan for three T20Is and one Test. The selectors were clearly miffed despite the choice being given to the players. Rahim was asked to clear a fitness test and play First-class cricket in order to be available for selection for the recent Test against Zimbabwe.
Coming on the back of a successful Test series against India as an individual, Rahim struck an unbeaten 203 against Zimbabwe in the last test that Bangladesh played before the entire world came to halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was his third double century in Test matches. The first one came against Sri Lanka at Galle in 2013 while the second was scored against Zimbabwe at Dhaka in 2018.
The ongoing period is the best in Rahim's international career. He had an impressive ODI World Cup where he scored 367 runs including a century and two half-centuries at 52.3 and a strike rate of 92.68.
The Bogra-born has also decided to let go of his wicketkeeping gloves in Test cricket to not only extend his career but also give himself the opportunity to be more effective with the bat. At 33, Rahim's best years are ahead of him.
© Cricket World 2020