DUBAI: Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza has made it clear he wasn’t consulted before the BCB flew in two batting reinforcements in Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar for the remainder of the Asia Cup. He was unsure how bringing two new players into the squad would lift an under-fire team that needs backing after losses to Afghanistan and India, where they were bowled out for 119 and 173 respectively.
The loss to India now puts Bangladesh in a must-win situation as they prepare to face Afghanistan again to stay alive in the Asia Cup. Shakib Al Hasan, the vice-captain, summed up the confusion best through a cheeky remark when asked about the team combination for Sunday’s game. “Since you get the news [early], maybe you will also get the news of who is playing and who is not.”
Nazmul Hossain Shanto, the 20-year-old left-handed opener, has scores of 7 and 7 in his only two ODIs here at the Asia Cup after being brought in as Tamim Iqbal’s replacement. He was part of the West Indies tour earlier this summer but returned without playing a game. He made his Test debut in New Zealand in January 2017, and has been among the more consistent domestic performers since; his temperament and poise even eliciting rich praise from his Khulna Titans coach Mahela Jayawardene.
Liton Das, meanwhile, is the regular Test wicketkeeper who is seen as a like-for-like replacement should Mushfiqur Rahim’s workload need some easing off. At the Asia Cup so far, he hasn’t hit top form, aggregating scores of 7, 6 and 0 in his three innings. Liton was incidentally tried for the opening slot only after Anamul Haque failed to nail down a place after a successive run of seven ODIs since January, where his highest was 35.
Anamul, meanwhile, had replaced Soumya, while Kayes has been in and out of the ODI set-up over the last two years. He hadn’t been picked since the series in South Africa last October where he made 100 runs in three ODIs. This merry-go-round situation isn’t ideal, but Shakib called for calmer heads and consistency in selection to derive the desired results.
Mashrafe, who has been vocal about the scheduling earlier in the tournament, also didn’t stop short of speaking his mind, admitting to being confused by the signals sent out by the BCB at the sudden turn of events.
While he wasn’t sure of the external factors at play, Mashrafe insisted there had been no pressure on the batsmen from within the team. He insisted batsmen were given a clear mandate to play freely, without worrying about run rates, given how dry surfaces have produced middling totals both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. However, he called for a strong show from the top order to ease the pressure.
Amid all the confusion, Mashrafe wanted his team to only look as far back as the West Indies tour after they bounced back from losing the two Tests in five days combined to clinch the ODI series.
“I think it is still possible. I, of course, believe it is still possible,” he said. “We’ve done it recently. I don’t think that there is the reason to lose hope. I think we have a chance to come back. If we have a good day and can win the match [against Afghanistan], there will be a 50-50 chance in the match against Pakistan.”