Shakib Al Hasan is back in Bangladesh team and which would be a huge boost for the Tigers!

With disciplinary issues haunting on one side and confusion regarding the availability of their star player on the other, Bangladesh had a tough task at hand in selecting their Asia Cup squad. But in a rather welcoming move, the selectors have backed recent form and picked a formidable group of 16 in a bid to better their heroics in 2012, when they emerged runner-ups.

Squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Shakib Al Hasan (vc), Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Nazmul Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Haider Rony.

With Mashrafe Mortaza and Steve Rhodes acing the West Indies challenge with a smooth transition in the limited-overs leg after they were bashed in the Tests, Bangladesh are more than hopeful of posing a challenge to the might of India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Bangladesh made three changes to the squad that played the Windies with one of them a forced change as Sabbir Rahman was dropped on disciplinary grounds for threatening a fan on social media. But have the selectors covered every base? Have they maintained the right balance and personnel for a marquee event?

Balance of the squad

With five frontline seamers, Bangladesh have sent across a strong statement about their unprecedented strength in the fast bowling department. They have backed up the seamers with two spinners – Mehidy Hasan and Nazmul Islam – and the all-round capabilities of Shakib-al-Hasan, Mossadek Hossain and Mahmudullah. Ariful Haque is also an all-rounder who bowls seam up.

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Batting-wise, Bangladesh have achieved reasonable balance by replacing Sabbir Rahman with a like-for-like Mohammad Mithun. Ariful Haque is also a promising inclusion given his capabilities down the order late in the innings. The top-order remains pretty much familiar with Tamim and Liton Das expected to open the innings. Mossadek Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah and Shakib are the other batsmen in the side.

The here and there choices

That Nazmul Hassan, the Board President, managed to convince Shakib to stay on for the Asia Cup and delay his surgery until the Zimbabwean series is a positive when you consider what he brings to the squad. But with a World Cup looming, Bangladesh put themselves at risk of aggravating Shakib’s injury and delaying the eventual surgery.

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“I have spoken with him [Shakib Al Hasan] in Medina and he said that he will do the operation after the Asia Cup,” said Board President Nazmul as revealed by Cricbuzz. “I asked him if it is possible to do the operation after the Asia Cup – during the series against Zimbabwe [because] I feel that it will be more challenging at the Asia Cup.”

Abu Jayed wasn’t considered in the ODI side despite his strong showing in the Tests in West Indies. The right arm seamer was a handful on the Caribbean wickets, extracting bounce and putting batsmen in awkward positions. His inclusion would definitely have strengthened the squad.

The green ticks

The selection of Mohammad Mithun sends across a positive message to youngsters vying for a spot in the national squad and discards. Mithun had impressed in the recent One-Dayers against Ireland A after being omitted from the side post the tri-series in January. Mithun will be a direct replacement for Sabbir down the order with him being identified by Mortaza as the right man to finish the innings.

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The onus on fast bowling is interesting but a much needed fresh approach with most teams struggling against the new ball these days. Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain are identified as the duo to bowl the death overs in the World Cup and the addition of Abu Haider adds a sting to the pack. Mashrafe, alongside Abu or Rubel, should take the new ball with Mustafizur coming in short bursts.

Final verdict

A few half-hearted choices aside, Bangladesh have banked on experience and trustable personnel which is a refreshing move. Their squad, though not stuffed with intimidating individuals, pack a punch as a team and it is this unity that the side will look to take to the Asia Cup.

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Sri Lanka, in a pathetic form in ODIs, and India, without Virat Kohli, presents Bangladesh a decent opportunity to challenge for a runners-up place, if not take the title. With Mortaza at the helm and Rhodes pulling strings in the background, it might not be a far-fetched dream.


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