Bangladesh selectors limit their choices

Gill Saab

Yaar Malang
The Bangladesh selectors have left themselves little choice but to persist with a team which is very similar to the one that played in the World T20 for the three-match ODI series against India. They will pick a squad from among the 16 players who are in the training camp in Dhaka, as seven of the 23-member preliminary squad for the ODI series are either in the West Indies on the Bangladesh A tour or being sent there as on Wednesday night.

There had been much talk of a number of changes in the Bangladesh team from within the BCB during and after the World T20. But given how the upcoming ODI squad is shaping up, the only changes are those of the coaching staff following the resignations of David Dwyer, Shane Jurgensen and Corey Richards after the World T20.

If fitness and the Faruque Ahmed-led selection committee's drift are to be followed, they will have to make a choice between Ziaur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed and Mithun Ali. Taskin is a 19-year old fast bowler who made his international debut in the World T20, after suffering for 11 months with a knee injury. He has shown aggression and bowls at over 80mph, a rarity among quick bowlers in Bangladesh. Ziaur has had very few opportunities in the 2013-14 season. He has bowled well at times, but it would be surprising if the selectors pick five quick bowlers - Ziaur, Mashrafe Mortaza, Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain and Taskin. In that case, Mithun could get a look-in as a back-up wicketkeeper, and reward for scoring 706 runs in nine first-class matches this season.

Eight of the preliminary squad will be scrutinised at length. It is likely that the selectors will give Mahmudullah a chance to play his 100th ODI despite just 36 runs in four ODI innings this year and an ordinary World T20. He was dropped for the Asia Cup after making 0, 1 and 5 against Sri Lanka but was quickly restored following Sohag Gazi's hand injury during the Asia Cup.

What is going to save him perhaps is a first-class century he made last month, after which he was banned for two games for making unsavoury gestures towards his own dressing room, as well as allrounder Sabbir Rahman being sent to the West Indies.

Gazi is another player who has had a poor run in 2014 after the high of the New Zealand series last year. He has three wickets in ODIs this year at an average of 56, and didn't pick a single one in the World T20. Thereafter, he has averaged 44.88 for nine first-class wickets.

Shamsur Rahman and Nasir Hossain are among the six players to return from the West Indies after the second four-day game against Sagicor High Performance Centre. If it translates to both being retained in the ODI side, it wouldn't be too much of a surprise as Nasir has only had his first bad patch in international cricket since debuting in 2011. Shamsur has had an up-and-down 2013-14 season, where he scored a Test century and a first-class double-hundred, but also remained irregular in the ODI and T20 sides. Imrul Kayes being in the West Indies with the A team will also work in Shamsur's favour.

Abdur Razzak has corrected his poor form since March with 37 wickets in the post- World T20 first-class season but more importantly, the selectors would always back a senior player who is eager to prove his detractors wrong. Razzak has been light of wickets in ODIs this year but he has recovered from a hamstring injury which he had picked up in early February.

The other eight are automatic choices due to very good to decent form or international experience. Al-Amin has improved by leaps and bounds while Rubel has been the highest wicket-taker this season and this year in ODIs for Bangladesh. Mashrafe, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Anamul Haque and Mominul form the backbone of the squad although Tamim Iqbal has had a run of low scores.

Chief selector Faruque has had a tricky start after taking over from Akram Khan but like his predecessor, he has also wanted to give players a longer run in the team. The ODI series against India will be a major test of his patience, as much as it would be a litmus test for Bangladesh on the field.