Cricket

Bangladesh look at opening options to partner Tamim


OPENING CONUNDRUM

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Tamim cracked a hundred in a warm-up game before the tri-series also involving Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka © Getty

Bangladesh’s opener Tamim Iqbal cracked an impressive century in an intra-squad warm-up game to get himself ready for the upcoming tri-nation series also involving Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. However, the team management is desperately looking for another opener to partner him at the top of the order.

The tri-series is scheduled to start from January 15 before Sri Lanka will take on the home side, Bangladesh, in a two-match Test series and two T20I games.

Bangladesh’s 32-member preliminary squad began their preparations from December 26, with the backroom staff giving importance to the physical fitness of the players.

Incidentally, the think tank decided to play two 50-over matches between available members to provide them much-needed match practice while opting to release a few of their squad members for Bangladesh Cricket League as it will allow the cricketers to have some more time in the middle.

Tamim, arguably their most reliable batsman across formats, did not waste the opportunity by notching up a hundred before opting to retire out. Bangladesh’s players also got a taste of the 50-over format after playing in a string of T20 games in the Bangladesh Premier League – country’s lone franchise-based T20 tournament.

“Naturally we needed to play this 50-over game as it is very important for us because we haven’t played this format for a while,” Khaled Mahmud, the technical director, told reporters in Mirpur.

“The [kind of] temperament [needed for the 50-over format] is different. It’s important to be among runs. Tamim was in good touch while others chipped in too. The bowlers also needed some practice because they were quite used to bowling four-over spells but here the case is different,” he added.

Despite Tamim crunching a hundred, the think tank has a few issues to deal with as they are looking at options to partner the southpaw opener at the top of the order. Soumya Sarkar and Liton Das couldn’t make it count during the tour of South Africa and mostly struggled in the BPL too.

On the other hand, Anamul Haque and Mohammad Mithun managed to show their potential in BPL and are considered as serious contenders. Liton, however, could still find a place in the squad as at fag end of the BPL, he compiled a fine hand of 65 against Sylhet Sixers.

Mithun the wicketkeeper-batsman, who played a big part in Rangpur Riders’ triumph in the BPL by composing 329 runs, could count himself unlucky if the selectors ignore him for Imrul Kayes. He has also done well in first-class and List A tournaments in the recent past. Kayes was inconsistent in the BPL and was demoted down the batting order.

There is also a strong possibility of Haque making a comeback. Haque, who hasn’t played ODIs since 2015, has been in fine form in the domestic circuit. He amassed 596 runs in 16 innings in the 50-over Dhaka Premier League before compiling 206 runs at a strike-rate of 128.75 in the BPL.

“Probably we will get the team in a couple of days and it would be helpful to plan afterwards. We all know about 8 to 10 players who are certainly confirmed to be in the playing XI,” noted Mahmud.

According to sources, pace bowler, Taskin Ahmed, is unlikely to make the cut for the tri-nation series as he has largely struggled to bowl as per the team management’s expectations. The home side’s strategy of using spinners on turning tracks of Bangladesh also could play a role in Taskin being left out.

“Naturally we will try to play to our strengths. It won’t be the same like it was before and let us see how the wickets are prepared,” Mahmud noted.

Meanwhile, left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam might find a place at the expense of Sunzamul Islam considering his BPL performances. Nazmul picked up 12 scalps in the tournament.

It is also learnt that the think tank isn’t sure about the fitness of Mosaddek Hossain. As a result of his fitness concerns, he was asked to take part in the BPL alongside a few other contenders – Mominul Haque and Taijul Islam – better known for their skills in the longest format.

Bangladesh’s probable ODI squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Anamul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Rubel Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Nazmul Islam.

© Cricbuzz

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