Shakib Al Hasan’s injury is a huge blow for Bangladesh, who wish to break the jinx in New Zealand during ODI series……
Despite the allure of money (for players) and great entertainment (for spectators), the numerous mushroom-like T20 leagues can play a spoilsport in a national team’s planning of achieving an ever-elusive prize that the whole nation so desperately craves for. Bangladesh, in general, and their national team, in particular, must be feeling the heart-stinging pain of the aforementioned kind as they have just lost the services of their premier all-rounder, Shakib-al-Hasan who coped a blow on his left ring finger during the final of Bangladesh Premier League which has effectively ruled him out of the upcoming tour of New Zealand.
Bangladesh’s tour of New Zealand starts with a three-match ODI series, the first of which will be played on 13th February in Napier, and is followed by a three-match Test series. The tour holds great significance for the tourists as they look to break their Tasman jinx because they have never recorded a win either in Tests or in ODIs in their four sojourns to the island nation so far. It is in this context that losing Shakib due to a finger injury is really frustrating as he forms a very vital cog in both the Test and ODI Teams for his nation.
Shakib is arguably the best cricketer produced by Bangladesh who has contributed heavily in all the departments of the game. Be it batting, bowling or fielding, the 31-year-old all-rounder has contributed heavily to his team’s cause. With 5500+ runs in ODIs at an average of 35 and 3800+ runs in Tests at an average close to 40 along with 247 and 205 wickets in ODIs and Tests respectively, he has been nothing short of a force to reckon in the Bangladeshi Cricket Circuit. His presence in the team has always been vital for the success of Bangladesh who have registered 88 wins in the 195 ODIs (with 103 losses) he has played till now. The number of wins drops significantly in his absence as in the 119 ODI matches that Bangladesh have played so far without the services of their best all-rounder, they have been able to register a meagre 27 wins (to go with 89 losses) from 119 matches.
A similar story unfolds when it comes to the Test arena where his presence has ensured 11 wins in 45 Tests (34 losses). This number falls to just 2 from 50 games with 48 losses. Clearly, Shakib’s presence has been the sine qua non for Bangladeshi success since his debut. Shakib’s is not the only case which has hampered Bangladesh’s preparations for the World Cup and their attempt to break the New Zealand jinx as Taskin Ahmed was also ruled out earlier, owing to an ankle injury sustained in a BBL match. Now that the damage has been done, the best Bangladesh can do is to look up to the players who can step up in the absence of the two marquee players.
Since the ODI series is lined up first, we should look for the players who can make it big in the limited-overs leg. Apart from Shakib, Tamim Iqbal (290 runs from 9 games), Imrul Kayes (262 runs from 6 games) and Mushfiqur Rahim (144 runs from 7 games) can be considered to be stand out performers in the batting department. But since Imrul Kayes has not been included in the ODI squad, the onus is now on the other batsmen namely Tamim Iqbal, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah, and Mushfiqur Rahim to step up for their nation’s historical effort. The same is expected of the bowlers like Mashrafe Mortaza, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Shafiul Islam, and Mehidy Hasan.
The reason why Bangladesh should look up to the players mentioned above is their recent exploits in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). While Tamim (467 runs from 14 games -second highest) and Mushfiqur (426 runs from 13 games – third most) were among the top run-scorers in the tournament, Mashrafe Mortaza and Rubel Hossain took a tally of 22 wickets each which was the joint second highest tally in the competition. Surely, these players need to carry their BPL form against New Zealand if Bangladesh aspires to break the unfortunate jinx and these are quality players we are talking about who has the experience of the rigours of playing at the international level.
One more factor, apart from the possession of quality pace bowlers, which can play into the Bangladesh’s hand is the recent performance of Indian spinners in the five-match ODI series against New Zealand where Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal took 17 wickets in total, which helped India in arresting momentum from the Kiwis especially in the middle overs (11-40). Bangladesh too have quality spinners in Mehidy Hasan and Nayeem Hasan who can emulate the performance of Indian spinners for their team.
Speaking to the reporters before taking the New Zealand bound flight, Bangladesh’s head coach Steve Rhodes expressed his confidence in the abilities of his side in giving tough competition to the hosts. “We are very happy with the performances of the players recently. We are expecting to do well in the ODI format because that’s something we pride ourselves on and so we will be doing our very best in the ODIs. As far as Test matches are concerned, very difficult. Again we are a little bit better equipped now for playing away from home. Hopefully, we can produce some result in the Test matches.”
It’s true that Bangladesh have their real chance of breaking the jinx in the ODI format but, as their coach said, they will be hopeful of putting up a real fight in the Test matches. Both the battles (in ODIs and Tests) will need some serious stepping up from the Bangladeshi players, more so in the absence of Shakib and Taskin, if they (players and the fans) want to realize their dream of winning on the Tasman shores.