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Wednesday 13 December 2017
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Mushfiq's captaincy under threat

Report: Rakesh Sinha
Published : Monday 09 October, 2017 01:04 PM
Mushfiq\'s captaincy under threat

There have been several occasions in the past three years when the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) could have removed Mushfiqur Rahim as Test captain but the clamour for his sacking, even within the board, has been at its loudest during the Bloemfontein Test. So what has happened in the last 11 days in South Africa to prompt these calls?

First, it was how he flouted common sense to field first on an evidently flat pitch in the first Test in Potchefstroom. Mushfiqur said at the toss and after the match that he took the decision to give his bowlers the best possible use of conditions, but it was clear that he didn't have confidence in his batting line-up, which had done poorly in their previous Test, at home against Australia.

In Bloemfontein, he took the same decision on a pitch that required batsmen to be courageous enough to handle the first two sessions before it eased out. Given the opportunity to do so, South Africa made full use of it, posting 428 on the first day itself.

Both these decisions weren't received well by the BCB, and Mushfiqur gave his bosses a second reason to think strongly about removing him as captain. On that first day, he broke the usual practice of sending other players to the end-of-day press conference by attending it himself. Once there, he didn't just defend his decision to bowl first, he also said that he had failed to motivate his players. The revelation that the "coaches" asked him to field in the deep instead of fielding positions close to the bowlers also didn't go down well.

Before play began on the second day in Bloemfontein, BCB president Nazmul Hassan said he couldn't find any justification for Bangladesh deciding to bowl first.

"You have to bat first in this pitch," Hassan said. "I think only Mushfiqur can say why he took this decision. If I say during a match, he will get nervous. I spoke to him on the phone but I didn't tell him anything about this. I thought he'd decide to bat first. I was really surprised with his decision at the toss yesterday. Maybe they saw something that we can't see from here."

Hassan's words are the tip of the iceberg that's approaching Mushfiqur in the coming weeks. Most of the support the board gave him evaporated after the Chittagong Test against Australia last month, when he said it was not possible for a wicketkeeper to bat at No 4.

The BCB were particularly irked by that statement considering how it has supported his cause as a captain-keeper-batsman. He was trusted with the gloves in Colombo this year even after Liton Das was named as the frontline wicketkeeper. But these tactical errors - carrying on from those he made in Bangladesh's previous Test, when they kept feeding a rampant Nathan Lyon left-handed batsmen to prey on - may have turned the tide against Mushfiqur. Hassan criticised him for that at a private meeting.

 

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