Confident, Compact, Composed
"He has a deeper understanding of his game and that is making the difference," Nazmul Abedeen Fahim, a long-term mentor to Mushfiqur Rahim, said about one of his favourite students while talking to The Daily Star yesterday.
Mushfiqur's adherence to discipline is well known. Usually first to training sessions, Mushfiqur manages his routine industriously. However, 17 years since his debut, a determination that kept the hunger alive has never waned. It is almost surprising to hear that someone has learned how to better understand their own game over such a long career. But in Mushfiqur's case, signs are that he is turning over a new leaf.
There was a stillness to Mushfiqur, portrayed very well over the last two days, that had not been seen before. There was no anxiety in trying to do something extra or force the issue. His technique and mindset all perfectly fused to meet the match scenario.
"His skill level has increased. There are a lot more shots in his arsenal. If you look at his scoring chart, you will see that he has increased range whether you talk about drives or pull shots. He has a lot of confidence in his batting and it is showing. The increased ability has made his confidence level rise to new heights and he appears to be even more ready to score runs now," Fahim said of Mushfiqur's confidence following an unbeaten 175 yesterday.
A few drives caressed the green carpet of the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium and the positions he was getting himself into, especially to play some eye-catching cover drives, left the image of a Mushfiqur more compact than ever. That compactness has seen the confidence in his defensive shots rise to a new level.
"Compactness is everything. If you look at his defence, it is all about being compact. When a batsman feels that confidence in his defence, it is easier to get behind the line of deliveries and easier to spend time at the crease," Fahim opined.
Mushy's two back-to-back tons were far apart in terms of approach too. "The Chattogram innings gave him confidence, but in Dhaka he was freer and more confident and he scored a lot more boundaries," Fahim said.
Mushfiqur even brought out his reverse-sweep on the second day, having avoided it altogether in Chattogram and on the first day in Dhaka. The shot has caused Mushfiqur much suffering over a long career but he never shied away from saying that it was a shot he felt comfortable with.
However, when he played the shot yesterday, it did not feel out of place. "The field was setup in a way to cut out boundaries and he picked the right deliveries," Fahim opined on Mushfiqur's reverse-sweep.
Mushfiqur records all his practice sessions and goes through them, putting his phone on 'flight mode'. Asked if Mushfiqur is now turning over a new leaf in his Test career, Fahim said: "Of course I feel he's turning over a new leaf and I am hoping he will keep scoring."
"He is enjoying his game and that is getting him more success," Fahim concluded about Bangladesh's 'Mr. Dependable'.
Just as Liton Das was feeling more confident in his new approach, Mushfiqur is also finding out his game better. "When you have discipline, it enables you to play a long period in Tests," Liton Das said yesterday at the press conference when asked about whether discipline was his and Mushy's biggest strength. Confidence, enjoyment and composure, it's all coming together for Mushfiqur.