'Day by day my rhythm is getting better'
Mushfiqur Rahim, the Bangladesh wicketkeeper, is confident he will only improve with more exposure at the international level. Mushfiqur, who has largely been Bangladesh's first-choice keeper after being picked ahead of Khaled Mashud for the 2007 World Cup, has missed a few catches behind the stumps on the current tour of South Africa but is confident his rhythm is improving.
"It's not so easy to keep in seaming and bouncy conditions but I'm not taking it as an excuse. There were a few regulation chances that I shouldn't have missed," Mushfiqur told the Daily Star. Graeme Smith, who scored 157 in South Africa's innings-and-129-run win in the first Test in Bloemfontein, was given a reprieve on 83 - he came down the track and was beaten by left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan, but Mushfiqur failed to collect the ball and effect the stumping.
"It's likely that top-class keepers miss sometimes. As a keeper I was initially nervous but now I am more comfortable and confident," he said. "And I feel, day by day, my rhythm is getting better."
Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh captain, highlighted the batsmen's inability to cope with the bounce in South Africa as the reason behind the team's poor showing after the first Test. "It's really a new experience for all of us to play in South Africa," Mushfiqur said. "It was really tough out there in the middle with the ball bouncing and swinging like anything. But the problem is that we rarely come across such deliveries on flat tracks at home."
Mushfiqur scored 89 in Bangladesh's practice game before the Test, and offered some resistance with his 48 in the first innings in Bloemfontein. However, he is looking to improve his batting averages it is below 20 in both Tests and ODIs. "I think someone's average ultimately shows how good he is as a player. And my average in both one-day and Tests is hardly satisfying. I have a target to achieve an average of 40-plus in Test and 35 to 40 in one-day matches.
"I'm trying to be consistent in my batting. I had a problem with gripping the bat and leaving the ball and worked on these in the Premier League [a domestic 50-over competition] and got the results. I scored few runs in the last few series but I have to play some long innings."
Mushfiqur's nearest competitor for the keeper's spot, Dhiman Ghosh, joined the ICL, but he said he cannot be complacent. "There is no scope to be relaxed in international cricket. It's only a matter of time that an alternative will come if I fail to deliver," he said. "I want to be an international figure and this is my ultimate goal. I am preparing myself to achieve the goal." Mushfiqur had been dropped for a few ODI series this year, including the three-match series in Australia, but Ghosh's signing with the unauthorised league saw him make a comeback for the recent home series against New Zealand.