Teenager Rahim ready to face England after sublime century

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The Independent Online

Don Bradman, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara proved that size is no obstacle when it comes to scoring runs. This stellar quartet did not let their diminutive stature prevent them smashing big, fast bowlers around the grounds of the world, and become giants in the game.

Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh's five foot tall reserve wicket-keeper, will need to produce something special over the next 15 years if he is to reach the status of the aforementioned. But yesterday's unbeaten innings of 115 was a good start for the 16-year-old, and should ensure a Test debut against England on Thursday, when he will become the ninth-youngest person to play Test cricket if he is selected.

At Lord's, Stephen Harmison, Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard and Simon Jones will give the technique and courage of the teenager a far sterner test than the threadbare attack he faced yesterday, but the manner in which he compiled his runs suggests he has an exciting future.

"The prospect of playing at Lord's is very exciting," said Rahim. "But I am sleeping okay. Cricket is not an age or height thing - I just watch the ball and try to play it. Dav Whatmore [the Bangladesh coach] has helped me a lot. He has just told me to go out and play, and not attempt to do anything extraordinary."

Bangladesh's top order could do worse than follow Rahim's example. In their final innings before the first Test each of the tourists' first five batsmen were guilty of getting out to a dreadful shot.

Following Northamptonshire's generous decision to declare on 230 for 6, Javed Omar drove loosely at Charl Pietersen in the first over of the Bangladesh innings and was caught in the gully. Aftab Ahmed, Rajin Saleh and Mohammad Ashraful each chipped simple catches to mid-on or mid-off, and Nafees Iqbal was bowled behind his legs.

But their dereliction gave Rahim the chance to shine. The right-hander, who scored an exciting half-century in Bangladesh's defeat at Sussex, received support from Mohammad Rafique and Kahled Mashud.

Rahim struck the ball beautifully and it was hard to believe you were watching a player so tender in age. His driving was superb and he was fearless in coming down the wicket.

"He looked so controlled - an old head on young shoulders," said Whatmore. "Lord's would be a great place to make your debut. To play him would be a good positive move."