On 11 December, 2018, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah became the first ever quintet to play 100 international matches for Bangladesh.
It was yet another landmark in the careers of the five stalwarts of Bangladesh cricket. For years, they remained the only constant in the shorter formats for Bangladesh.
Nearly four years have passed since then and a lot has changed. Mashrafe, Bangladesh’s captain extraordinaire, had already retired from T20 internationals in 2017. The pacer relinquished captaincy in ODIs in 2020 and has not played for the Tigers since.
Tamim Iqbal is now leading the team in ODIs. But he also hung up his boots in T20Is in July this year after not playing a T20I for Bangladesh since March of 2020.
And on 4 August, 2022, another name from the quartet entered the retired list in the shortest format of the game.
Mushfiqur Rahim, the most successful wicketkeeper in T20Is for Bangladesh both in terms of runs and dismissals, announced on social media that he has officially retired from T20Is to concentrate more on ODIs and Tests.
“Today, I am announcing my retirement from T20 Internationals. I will proudly continue to represent Bangladesh in Test and ODI formats. I am hopeful that I can bring success for our nation in these two formats,” Mushfiq wrote on his official Facebook page on Sunday.
Mushfiq’s departure leaves Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah as the only members of the famous quintet still active in T20Is.
With Mahmudullah already retired from Tests, this leaves Shakib as the only one in the quintet still active in all formats for Bangladesh.
Mushfiq announced his retirement just days after Bangladesh’s early exit in the Asia Cup T20. The Tigers suffered losses at the hands of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and had to pack up their bags and return home right after the group phase.
Mushfiq made one and four against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka respectively. But more than his failures with the bat, Mushfiq received flak for his shoddy performance behind the stumps in the do-or-die match against Sri Lanka.
Mushfiq dropped Kusal Mendis on one and also didn’t hear a nick from the same batsmen when he was on 31. Bangladesh suffered dearly for his mistakes as Mendis top-scored with 60 for Sri Lanka and ensured Bangladesh’s exit from Asia Cup.
Mushfiq hadn’t kept wickets in T20Is for over a year after informing the management in last year’s September that he will no longer keep wickets for Bangladesh in the format.
But in the absence of Liton Das and Nurul Hasan, who was out injured, Mushfiq once again wore the gloves in the Asia Cup.
Both Liton and Nurul are now considered important players for Bangladesh in the shortest format and are expected to be added to the Bangladesh squad for the upcoming ICC Twenty20 World Cup.
Liton will open the innings for Bangladesh. But making up space for Nurul Hasan would’ve been a headache for the management.
Dropping Mushfiq and taking Nurul Hasan would make sense tactically. Nurul is a more attacking batter than Mushfiq, and his batting style is more in line with the new batting approach the team wants to adopt in T20Is.
But dropping a player who has played over 100 matches, scored 1500 runs and even led the team for years, would’ve been a very bold decision, something the Bangladesh team management isn’t exactly known for.
But Mushfiq made life much easier for the decision-makers by announcing his retirement from the format. With Mushfiq not available for selection, Nurul can easily be slotted in at No. 5 and Afif Hossain would earn his much-deserved promotion to No. 4.
The 35-year-old had the temptation to play in the forthcoming ICC T20 World Cup and then call time on his T20I career.
But perhaps, he realised that him continuing to occupy a spot in the middle-order with a strike rate of 115.03 is doing more harm than good for the Tigers.
However, Mushfiq’s international career is far from over, as he is still an important member of the Test and ODI teams.
The famous quintet of Bangladesh cricket virtually broke up on March 2020, when Mashrafe gave up captaincy. What remained was the ‘Fab 4’, which also ended in Tests and T20Is after the respective retirements of Mahmudullah and Tamim.
In that sense, Mushfiq quitting from the T20 format is the continuation of the phasing out process of the quintet and quartet era in Bangladesh cricket.
A process that, according to many, should’ve started a few years ago.