Should Mushfiqur Rahim give up sweeping back?

Should Mushfiqur Rahim give up sweeping back?


In the middle of the first inning of the Gqeberha Test against South Africa in April, Mushfiqur Rahim fought for his top 50 in eight test shifts. He didn’t look completely out of shape, but the fact that he had only been three and a half centuries since the beginning of 2021 was disturbing. Mushfiqur moved to 47 and visitors balanced in the presence of their last recognized pair of shots.

Simon Harmer was first attacked on the third day, with two possible overseas left until lunch. It wasn’t supposed to be a break time for Bangladesh, but Mushfiqur suddenly decided to go after the offspinner.

Mushfiqur’s first ball was not timed perfectly, but the ball sailed towards the back square foot at the border. It got him to fifty. Another ball, Mushfiqur returned to block the tearing offbreak and was hit by the guards. By then, South Africa had lost all its reviews, so it survived.

There were only ten balls left until the lunch break, and Mushfiqur could either turn the punch or close the deal. Instead, he went back against Harmer’s angle around the goal. He missed him and got the ball when Harmer shouted in agreement.

In a television commentary, Mark Nicholas praised Mushfiqura for his professionalism just minutes ago. It was the fourth time Mushfiqur had gotten out to play a reverse sweep in a little over a year. Bangladesh has been in a difficult situation on all these occasions.

Bangladesh was eventually eliminated a few minutes after the lunch break. Mushfiqur then dealt another extravagant blow during the Bangladeshi blast the next morning, when they were all out of 80 in the fourth inning. Rather than celebrating how the tour began, it ended with Mushfiqur’s shot – and therefore his thinking – being strongly challenged by fans and the media.

So why did Mushfiqur try a reverse sweep a few minutes before lunch? On the surface, here’s an older player who trusts his own game plan and was just trying to discourage Harmer, who had just entered the attack for the first time that day. But he is also an older player who was the last recognized batsman in a game that was delicately prepared.

Experienced coach Nazmul Abedeen Fahim, whom Mushfiqur invited last week to work on his bat, said the reverse usually happens when Mushfiqur does not have the options, especially when he is not in good shape.

“Mushfiq is a fantastic reverse sweeper who has escaped a lot in the past. If you’re a left-handed batsman, you’ll be under pressure to cover the first 20-30 balls. It’s okay to play that shot after you’ve reached 50 or 60 . “

Russell Domingo

“It’s a matter of personal choice,” Fahim said. “He also knows that he can benefit if he can. When easy scoring options are smooth and open, then batsmen don’t usually go to such shots. But when there are few options and form isn’t good.” That’s great, then maybe a batsman fits those shots to get out of a situation. I expect him to score in his natural way. I don’t think he has to get into those options. “

Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo said Mushfiqur is playing a reverse sweep well, but should consider a few key issues before raising it.

“If you say the opening batsman leaves the cover, you stop driving the cover or play through the midwicket and get out of the lbw,” Domingo said. “If it’s a punch that you believe and that you believe, you know it’s a good choice. There’s nothing wrong with playing. I think the timing of the punch is important. When will you punch? Why play a shot, is it a field manipulation?

“Mushfiq is a fantastic reverse sweeper that has run him a lot in the past. If you’re a left-handed batsman, you’ll be under pressure if you cover the first 20-30 balls. It’s okay to play that punch after you’ve reached 50 or 60 . “

Fahim said he was working with Mushfiqur on a more technology-related issue and believed it would only be a matter of time before form resumed.

“Sometimes, when a batsman walks away from his natural game, from the basics, it affects his form,” Fahim said. “Confidence can be lost, and that affects its foundations. Then you tend to try different things to come back, which doesn’t always work in the end. So we focused mainly on the basics.

“His advantage is his more than 15 years of experience. Once he can overcome his technical problem, he will start scoring runs. He knows how to score runs. When the flow returns, he will be as smooth as ever.”

The release in Gqeberha was the second time Mushfiqur got in a reverse sweep in tests since 2014. The first was against the West Indies last year in Dhaka, while batting at 54.

But this shot seems to have caused him cross-format problems in recent years. In general, he timed the ball well when trying to play a reverse move, hitting 38 of four in 107 attempts, getting out a total of nine times.

Four of these exclusions came from February 2021. Of the 18 missile attempts, only two of the four were hit. Prior to this period, he found borders in 40% of cases where he intervened in a backward movement. It has fallen to 11% in the last 18 months.

To make matters worse, after getting a reverse sweep at ODI last May, he said it was one of his favorite shots, and if there was a chance, he would play four or five times in the match. Since he also often played that shot in moments of high pressure, the statement did not age well.

More than what he said, however, it is also surprising that the launcher of his experience and caliber continues in a game that does not really work for him. His team doesn’t work either, and Mushfiqur may want to reconsider his shot.

The Waugh brothers put off the hook and pull in the 1990s when it didn’t work for them. Sachin Tendulkar didn’t play cover well during his 200th match in Sydney. It didn’t reduce them like dough, but it probably helped them during the lean patch. Perhaps Mushfiqur, who is known for his training intensity and determination as a cricketer, will also figure out how to overcome this mental barrier.

Mohammad Isam is a Bangladeshi correspondent for ESPNcricinfo. @ isam84

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