Rahim: India have disappointed us
Bangladesh cricket captain Mushfiqur Rahim, in an EXCLUSIVE interview with ESPNSTAR.com, wondered why India have not yet invited his country for a Test series.
By Rajarshi Gupta
Mushfiqur Rahim is mature beyond his 23 years. Captain of the youngest Test-playing nation in the world, the wicketkeeper-batsman is a shrewd strategist on the field and an avid thinker off it. His take on how Bangladesh cricket can move forward is clear and simple -- they need to play more international cricket, especially Tests, against the mightiest in the world.
Rahim’s is not an easy life. Away from the limelight, the Bangladesh captain has been busy with university examinations, where he is sitting for tests to clear his Masters finals in General History. “You know it is difficult to manage studies and play cricket. All those international tours and the cricket at home do not make it easy but I want to do well in studies too.
“My parents always keep telling me ‘you never know if you would still be a cricketer tomorrow, so you must complete your studies’,” Rahim says before settling down for a long interview.
Rajarshi Gupta: Still basking in the glory of the Asia Cup success?
Mushfiqur Rahim: We did not expect this success. The fact that we managed to go through to the final was a great satisfaction. Thing is, we wanted to take it one game at a time. There were three other world-class teams and there was India, the world champions. Defeating them and Sri Lanka and going to the final was a great feat.
RG: You reached the Asia Cup finals, whitewashed New Zealand at home and have some sporadic successes elsewhere. Does it hurt to be still tagged as underdogs?
MR: Yes it does but to be honest, we have not delivered to our potential. We play good cricket in one series and then play poorly in the next. Bangladesh as a team would need to play consistent cricket so that the big boys start respecting us well. We definitely need to start performing well on a more regular basis.
RG: You should because you have a great team -- a good mix of youth and experience.
MR: We do indeed. There is great balance in the side. If you look right through the order, we have the likes of Mashrafe Mortaza, Shakib al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, all proven performers. Mortaza, on his comeback tournament at the Asia Cup, did very well. Jahurul Islam, a young batsman, has been good for us too. Then we have Abdul Razzak, a fine left-arm spinner, who has been brilliant. I am happy with my team.
RG: Unlike the Indian team, where the captain reportedly had problems with his seniors, you seem to get along fine with the experienced hands.
MR: Well, that’s because we are a very professional unit. Most of us have known each other for a very long time. Tamim, Shakib and I played junior-level cricket together so all that helps us bond like a family. At the end of the day, we are playing for our country, a country we are very proud of. The senior players help me a lot – in fact, not just me, when Shakib was captain they were there for him too. The spirit in the team is excellent.
RG: Despite the Asia Cup, despite a good team, you must be disappointed at the lack of opportunities to play Test cricket.
MR: Test cricket is the real deal. The more we play, the better we would get. There are so many areas we need to work on. We have been dropping catches and it has been a combination of problems in the batting and bowling departments that have let us down. But how can we correct all that if we regroup after five years to play Test matches? We should be involved with Test cricket every two months so that we iron out those problems. It is three sessions a day and we need to learn how to concentrate over that period. It is sad we haven’t got the chance to play Tests as regularly as we would like.
RG: Your neighbours -- India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan -- have not helped either. They don’t seem to be interested in playing Test cricket with Bangladesh.
MR: I am especially disappointed with India. It has been almost 12 years since we got Test status and India have not invited us for a single series. If we do not play with the big boys, there would be little scope to improve. It would be nice to play Test cricket against the likes of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
RG: Even South Africa refused to come down to Bangladesh. That must have hurt.
MR: That was frustrating too. We were looking forward to playing the Proteas before the World Twenty20 as we don’t have much cricket scheduled till the tournament. That is where we risk breaking our rhythm. We did so well at the Asia Cup but there is suddenly no international cricket for us now. Well, if the South Africans decided not to come, that is their decision. But I am sure they would have some plans before the World Twenty20 and so would we.
RG: The Pakistan trip would have been nice preparation. You came so close to beating them twice during the Asia Cup. But that tour is not happening either.
MR: There is some problem in Pakistan and a bit of uncertainty. The Bangladesh Cricket Board and the International Cricket Council must have come to a decision after giving it a good thought. But as players we would want to go anywhere in the world and just play. As long as we are not sitting at home, we are happy to go anywhere. But then, our families are obviously worried about our safety so it is important to ensure good security to countries we tour.
RG: Bangladesh may not be playing any international cricket and you are obviously peeved with India but you must also be happy with IPL’s new-found fondness for Bangladeshi cricketers.
MR: I am really happy for Tamim and Shakib and am sure the teams would realise their importance as the tournament goes on. And I hope that not just me but other players from Bangladesh get to play in the IPL -- it’s a great tournament to be part of.
RG: Your captaincy has drawn a lot of acclaim. You are seen as someone who does not shy away from taking a few risks. In other words, a complete captain. Not bad for a 23-year-old.
MR: If you want to beat the big boys, you have to contain them and plan well. For instance, during the Asia Cup, we had plans for every big player. If you have good batsmen and bowlers around you, it easy to execute those plans. At the end of the day, what they say is true -- a captain is as good as his team. Like I said earlier, I have a good team.
RG: Stuart Law resigning as Bangladesh coach must have been a big blow.
MR: That was a bit harsh on the team. Law did a great job with us and we were emerging as a unit under him. But we understand that. He had some problems with his family so he had to go back to Australia and we respect that. I wish he is successful in his next endeavour.
RG: Sachin Tendulkar got his 100th hundred against Bangladesh but you still won. That must have been a fine moment for you as a captain. You led from the front in the chase.
MR: We are actually proud that Sachin Tendulkar got his landmark century against us. He is a legend, a great player. What made it sweeter was the fact that we won that game. During the presentation ceremony, we congratulated Sachin on his ton.