Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe: The keeper-batsman dual role brings out best in Mushfiqur Rahim and it's high time selectors realise it

Mushfiqur Rahim returned to wicket-keeping duties in the ongoing series against Zimbabwe and then scored a double hundred, which made him the first wicketkeeper-batsman in history to score two double tons.

Sandipan Banerjee, November 14, 2018

Mushfiqur Rahim is someone who always likes to keep himself busy doing something, whether in the dressing room or in the field. For him, being a representative of his country, sitting idle during a match is an utter disgrace. Perhaps, that is the reason why Rahim still remains very much in the thick of the action whenever Bangladesh play, despite not being the captain anymore. He always urges for the wicket-keeping gloves across formats.

Being close to the action, keeps Rahim in a zone, which by his own admission, helps his batting. And following his rare feat of being the only wicketkeeper-batsman to score two double hundreds in Test matches, one should feel, the Bangladesh cricket fraternity should let him be in this zone.

Mushfiqur Rahim recently became the first wicketkeeper-batsman to have scored two double tons in Test cricket. AFP

Mushfiqur Rahim recently became the first wicketkeeper-batsman to have scored two double tons in Test cricket. AFP

Rahim has been around the international arena for 13 years. Since making his debut as a 16-year old at Lord's during the 2005 English Summer, the soft-spoken right-hander has gradually grown in stature as a cricketer.

In the present set-up, Rahim is perhaps Bangladesh's most important batsman across all three formats, especially in the Test matches. And quite incredibly, after the tiring job of wicket-keeping, he also bats in the top-five. Often, it has been noticed that after being stationed behind stumps for more than 100 overs, he has to come out to bat immediately, to bail his team out in precarious situations.

Still, unlike the Sangakkaras or McCullums, Rahim always insists on continuing with his dual role. In fact, until the tour of South Africa last year it was a triple role as he was leading the Test side as well and till date Rahim is Bangladesh's most successful captain in the longest format.

Talking about workload management, Rahim has done a decent job one must admit.

"I have said repeatedly, keeping helps me a lot," said Rahim after scoring 219 against Zimbabwe, the first-ever double century in Test cricket in 2018 as well as the highest score by a Bangladeshi in the longest format, in a press conference. "Though it doesn't mean that I will score centuries or double centuries in every match where I keep but it's my process, and I am a big believer in process and preparation. It sometimes happens that there is a bit of a problem managing the workload of the two roles, but I think it is a challenge and the one which I always enjoy."

In white-ball formats, Rahim's keeping is not a concern for the Bangladesh team management. But in Test matches in the past, the workload seemed to be getting to him.

In 2017, following a shambolic glove work behind the stumps in the one-off Test against India in Hyderabad, Rahim was first asked to hand over the wicket-keeping duties to Liton Das in their next red-ball assignment in South Africa.

Well, the experiment didn't last long despite Das having a decent run as a wicketkeeper-batsman. The selectors were more impressed with his batting and after returning from South Africa, the youngster was started to get projected in the national team, mostly as a specialist top-order batsman.

It was the previous Bangladesh head-coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who played an instrumental role in stripping Rahim of his wicketkeeping job. However, under new coach Steve Rhodes, who was a wicket-keeper himself in his playing days for England and Yorkshire, the former skipper has once again emerged as the first-choice glovesman in the Bangladesh Test team.

In his first assignment, which was the away series in the Caribbean a few months back, Rhodes identified Rahim as a better keeper than a fielder. Also with Das playing as an opener, he was not a wicket-keeping option anymore.

Hence, Rhodes immediately asked Rahim to take up the gloves again and the invitation was happily accepted.

Well, following his record knock against Zimbabwe, it is crystal clear that standing behind the stumps gives Rahim the added confidence when he comes out to bat. Perhaps, he suits and thrives more in this dual role. So, it is time for the selectors and the team management to let him be in his comfort zone.

Updated Date: Nov 14, 2018

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