Bangladesh number three batsman Mominul Haque hit his first Test century in three years, and his fifth overall, with an authoritative innings on the first day of the first Test against Sri Lanka at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong.
In the 53rd over of the innings, 15 minutes before the tea break, Mominul brought up Bangladesh’s second-fastest Test ton with a down-the-wicket boundary off Lankan chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan over cover. The fastest ton by Bangladesh batsman was recorded by opener Tamim Iqbal in the May 2010 Lord's Test against England, when Tamim brought up his hundred off his 94th delivery.
It is his fourth century in his seventh match at the venue, where he averaged 73.5 before the current innings. The Chittagong venue was also the site of his highest Test score, 181 against New Zealand in 2013.
A normally sedate batsman in method and demeanour, Mominul showed just what this Test century meant to him with an uncharacteristically exuberant celebration upon hitting the four to bring up the landmark. Usually his hundred celebrations are marked by a lifting of the helmet and bat and a smile towards the dressing room. This time, however, he ran towards the dressing room and was animated in a pumped-up celebration which was hard not to interpret as a pointed message to his former coach
The last time Mominul hit a ton in Test cricket was in November 2014 at the same venue in the third Test against Zimbabwe. Interestingly, that was Bangladesh’s second series under their then coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who abruptly resigned from his post during the disastrous South Africa tour in September-October last year to take up the head coach’s job in his native Sri Lanka.
Mominul, pigeon-holed as a Test specialist during Hathurusingha’s tenure, did not particularly enjoy the Sri Lankan’s three years in charge, during which he was dropped from the Test team in Bangladesh’s 100th Test match, against Sri Lanka in Colombo in March 2017. He was then also dropped for the first Test against Australia at home in September 2017 before playing both Tests and aggregating 92 runs in four innings in South Africa.
At tea, Mominul was on 107 off 103 balls having hit 13 boundaries, and while the strike rate may hint at an innings touched by recklessness, all of his boundaries were the fully controlled shots of a batsman in total command. His innings, and earlier Tamim Iqbal’s fast half-century, have been instrumental in Bangladesh’s current dominance. Mominul in particular enacted the team strategy of not letting the Lankan spinners settle and his innings was characterised by bold use of his feet to smother the spin.