Practice Sabbir Rahman. He can play against Sri Lanka today. Photo: BCB
Don’t be afraid there is again. There is some relief, but at the same time the discomfort is gnawing away. Before today’s life-or-death match of the Asia Cup against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh is in such a state of tension.
Rashid Khan and Mujib-ur Rahman are missing out as they do not have to play again.
Due to injury, the two frontline pacers of the opponent, Dushmant Chamira and Lahiru Kumara, are going to be relieved in this Asia Cup. Team director Khaled Mahmud gasped and said, ‘Sri Lankan spinners are good. But they are no longer Rashid or Mujib. ‘
Maybe this is Mahmud’s attempt to play ‘mind games’ before the match. If not, the Lankan version of leg-spinner Wanindu Hasharanga and mystery spinner Mujeeb, Mahesh Thikshanad’s IPL performance is not keeping them behind the Afghan spinners. Hasharanga has the best bowling average (16.53) in the last IPL. He took 26 wickets in 16 matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Thikshana, who took 12 wickets in 9 matches for Chennai Super Kings, also showed his effectiveness in the world’s best franchise league.
There is no reason for the Bangladesh camp to be unaware of any of this. On top of that, Mustafizur Rahman, who was considered as their best weapon against the Afghans, also ended up losing the match. In the last two years, his T20 performances outside the country have been going. It seems that Mahmud’s days of taking the poor Mustafiz as ‘auto choice’ are coming to an end. But after the first match of the Asia Cup, Bangladesh does not have to think about this aspect anymore. All-round pain is such that many areas of exchange are entering into thought.
But the shock of losing to the Afghans is so strong that even on Wednesday afternoon, Mahmud himself said that his thoughts have narrowed down a lot. In response to the question whether there can be any experiment in the bowling attack in the XI, he said, ‘Maybe, there can be a change in the bowling attack. We are still thinking. I will play the game tomorrow. This is why it takes time. ‘
Thoughts were supposed to open last night. Because there is not much time. There is no option for the Lankans to lose today to go from ‘B’ group to the Super Four stage. Facing another challenge and bringing out the best in difficult conditions, the team director said, ‘Tomorrow (today) is our most important match. What is called a life-death match! We will go to the top (Super Four) or not, it is a fight. Very challenging. There needs to be this challenge to play good cricket. ‘
The Bangladesh camp also feels that many things need to be changed to win this challenge. As for the news, the brand new opening pair can also be seen. Fear also surrounds the thought of this swap. Naeem Sheikh, who was no longer even in the party’s three boundaries, was brought back. Technical consultant Sreedharan Sreeram also hailed him as a natural strokemaker. However, after the Afghanistan match, that position changed, in the words of a team member, ‘Naeem started shaking against spin. If they see him, they (Sri Lanka) will start bowling with Thikshana. ‘
Although the Lankan spinners are not considered equal to Rashid-Mujeeb, the Bangladesh camp still fears that. Even after playing seven T20s since the tour of West Indies, Enamul Haque Vijay also failed to gain the trust of the team. The possibility of him being dropped from the Sri Lanka match thought, ‘Vijay is not able to put the ball with the bat. ‘If these two fly in the wind of change, who will fly? Yesterday, the team’s optional practice at the center wicket of the ICC Academy saw the duo getting importance in the batting. The possibility of seeing Mehedi Hasan Miraj and Sabbir Rahman to open has been heard from party sources as well, ‘Not sure yet. But Miraj-Sabbir can be seen in the opening. ‘
Miraj was Liton Kumar Das’ opening partner against India in the 2018 ODI Asia Cup final. He also contributed to the century partnership by scoring 38 runs. Apart from this, he has been seen opening regularly in BPL T20. But Sabbir also returned from the situation like Naeem. There was no performance anywhere. However, considering the experience, he can get the opportunity to revive the international cricket career in the role of opener. Untested, but considered to be in the playing XI.
The gamble to bring down Naeem didn’t work. Since the pain is all over, it seems to be playing with Sabbir too!