There is something about Mushfiqur Rahim and India. Be it the 2007 World Cup game or his maiden Test ton or his only ODI ton as captain in 2014 (Asia Cup), or even his unbeaten fifty in Bangladesh’s first-ever T20I win over India recently, all of Rahim’s big moments have come against India.
There’s often an image that leaves a mark. In 2016, during the World T20 game against India, he celebrated a little too early. After scoring two boundaries in the final over, he had brought down the equation to two runs to get off the last three deliveries. But Bangladesh bottled it up as India had one of the greatest escapes in the shortest format.
Three and a half years later, the Bangladesh wicket-keeper batsman redeemed himself. He led the charge in Bangladesh’s maiden T20I win over India and was also adjudged the Player-of-the-match in the process. The wicketkeeper-batsman just raises his game a notch higher every time India is the opposition. Irrespective of the format, Rahim has often been Bangladesh’s reliable man against the Asian superpower.
When you consider all formats, Rahim averages the best against Australia. However, he’s played just 14 innings but averages 60.75 (486 runs). The next best is against India - 39.80. He has played 38 innings against India and has amassed 1194 runs, fourth-most (after Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and West Indies) for him against a single opposition. However, against each of those opponents, Rahim has played 58 innings or more.
There is no other team against whom the Bogra-born cricketer averages more than 50 in Test cricket apart from India. Rahim has played four Test matches against India and averages 56.16. This is way more than his overall Test average of 34.73.
Two out of his six Test centuries have also come against them. His maiden Test ton came against India in 2010. It was his first Test against India. Batting at No. 7, he scored 44 in the first innings and then stroked a fine 101 which went in vain in the second essay. In Bangladesh’s first-ever Test match in India, he once again scored a ton (127) and, this time, it was in the first innings.
In ODIs, Rahim’s record against India is on par with his overall record (average of 36.30). He has an aggregate of 628 runs at an average of 34.88 in the 50-over format against the Asian giants. But there have been a couple of excellent knocks. One as a 19-year-old in the 2007 World Cup when he scored an unbeaten 56 to lead Bangladesh to a win and cause one of the biggest upsets in the history of World Cup cricket. Another one was his maiden and only ODI ton as captain which came in the 2014 Asia Cup. Also, ODIs might be the only format where Rahim hasn’t really fired on all cylinders against India and has a middling record. He averages 40 or more against four other teams (Australia – 119.50, England – 44.09, West Indies - 44.00, Zimbabwe – 40.18) in the 50-over format. Afghanistan (38.00), Pakistan (36.83) and South Africa (36.50) are the other teams against whom he has a better average in ODIs than India.
In T20Is, Rahim’s average against India is almost double than his career average. He averages a mere 20.40 after 83 T20Is. However, against India, that rises up to 38.16.
There have been a few knocks that have gone in vain. Be it the 6-ball 11 cameo in that fateful 2016 World T20 game or his career-best T20I score of 72 which came in the Nidahas Trophy in 2018. However, everything turned around when he scored an unbeaten 60 in the first T20I against India in Delhi. He rewrote all the wrongs and redeemed himself as his knock led Bangladesh to a historic win against India.
This average against India is bettered only against Australia (44.50) against whom he’s scored 89 runs from four innings. In fact, apart from India and Australia, it is only against Sri Lanka that Rahim averages more than 30 in T20Is. Against Afghanistan, his average is 23.80. Apart from these, he averages in the teens against every other team.
Rahim has been playing for almost a decade and a half now. It was in 2007 that he played against India for the first time and right from that time, he’s made it a habit of standing up against them. For some reason, he just charges himself up when he comes up against India. It’s a love-affair that ceases to stop and Bangladesh will continue to hope that it continues for as long as Rahim plays.