When Mominul Haque debuted in 2013, Bangladesh finally thought that they got their hands on a batsman who was the solution to a fragile Test batting lineup. When Mominul managed to score fifties in 11 consecutive Test matches, the expectations rose to the sky. But as time passed on, Mominul's average dropped and then came the questions. And after he managed to score only 44 runs in the recently-concluded India tour, the questions now loom large. Is Mominul really the best Test batsman Bangladesh ever had? Or is that just a myth?
The stats keep falling
Mominul currently averages 39.65, which is a far-cry from the Bradman-esque average he had in his early days. The stats clearly state that Mominul's performances have taken a dip over the years. In 2013, he managed to score 584 runs in nine innings at an average of 83.42. The next year he averaged 51.16, scoring 614 runs in 14 innings. But since then, he never averaged more than 50 in any calendar year with his best in recent years being 44.86 in 2018.
Another interesting fact is the contrast between his average at home and away. While he averages 55.33 at home, that drops down to 21.45 in foreign conditions. Especially at home, the Zahur Ahmed Stadium in Chattogram seems to be his favourite, where he has scored 1056 runs in 17 innings, at an average of 75.42.
Questions about his technique
Mominul's performance started to take a hit during the tenure of former Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe, who was not a big fan of the Cox's Bazar-born batsman. Mominul, who had been considered as an auto-choice for the Test squad, saw himself pushed out of the team based on complaints regarding his technique. He even batted at No. 8 in a Test match against Australia, which till date remains the lowest he has batted for the national side.
After Chandika left, Mominul scored two centuries in a match against Sri Lanka, the side which was coached by the former Bangladesh head coach. That looked like an answer to Chandika from Mominul, but since then Mominul has managed to score only two centuries and a fifty in 23 innings.
Questions regarding Mominul's technique now is at its peak as he looked completely helpless against a brilliant Indian bowling lineup. His dismissals clearly displayed indecision as his footwork and shot-selection were indecisive.
Where does the problem actually lie
Salahuddin Ahmed, who coached Mominul during his days at the Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Pratishthan (BKSP), said that Mominul might have some technical problems. He said, "When you are failing continuously, getting out in the same fashion, there might be technical problems. I think preparation is very important. A lot of things depend on how he prepares to play in foreign conditions. Obviously, there are some problems."
Salahuddin also pointed out the fact that only playing in the longest format might be a reason behind the dip in his performances, but as someone playing Test matches for some time, he must score. "We do not play Test matches regularly, so the dressing room might feel a bit unfamiliar at times, there might be some problems. But still, I would say that these are not actual causes. He is playing Test matches for quite some time and needs to score whatever the conditions are," Salahuddin added.
Questioned if the being appointed captain in the India series had an effect on his batting, Salahuddin disagreed. He said, "I actually don't want to mix up batting with captaincy. Batting is an instinctive matter. When you bat you don't keep thinking that you are the captain."
But Salahuddin also mentioned that being captain in such a big series meant he had to deal with a lot of things off the field and that it was a new environment for him and he will learn gradually.
Salahuddin also said that not only Mominul but the whole Bangladesh top order had no answer to the brilliant Indian bowling attack and the reason behind it was because of their naiveté in such situations. He stated, "Our top-order had no answer to the Indian bowling attack. The reason is, it has been a long time since we played against a quality bowling attack like India. Actually, the problem is not only technical. Our batting looked problematic because we did not face such a situation in a long time. If we were accustomed to it, then maybe we could have done better."
Salahuddin also added that to get out of this situation, Mominul had to prepare well and there was no instant solution to his problems. "In such circumstances, he has to prepare well, he has to know about opponent bowlers well. There is no instant solution to this, it is a matter of long term planning," Salahuddin concluded.
Even after his decline in form in recent years, Mominul still holds the highest average among his current Test compatriots. That reflects his ability as a batsman, and maybe the point of him being considered as the best Bangladeshi Test batsman is correct.
But at this moment, he is in a tight hole and must find a way out. If he does, it will be a blessing for both the team and himself. But if he does not, then he will end up on the list of incredible talents who missed out on the opportunity to make it big.