As per the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB's) directive, the national selectors submitted a strong 15-member squad for the Asian Games to be held in Incheon, South Korea from September 19 to October 4.
Almost all the leading cricketers except captain Mushfiqur Rahim, who has opted out in order to attend his marriage ceremony, were drafted in the side as the board is desperate to retain the gold in the multinational competition. But many have questioned the wisdom of sending the best Bangladesh cricketers to the Asian Games while regional giants like India and Pakistan were reluctant even to send teams for the men's competition.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have ignored multinational meets in the past and their attitude was no different this time as neither the men's nor the women's teams from India will be part of the upcoming event while the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have opted only to send the women's team for the tournament.
South Korea, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka will take part in the men's competition while South Korea, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand will play in the women's competition.
It is common practice that the authorities rest their best players when the level of competition is not very high.
“As far as I know India and Pakistan are not participating and we are also not sure about the Sri Lankan side. We have been advised by the board to make a strong team with the best available players as our main focus is to win the gold medal again in the cricket competition,” explained chief selector Faruque Ahmed when he was asked about the logic behind picking his best players for the low-key competition.
Pace spearhead Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is likely to lead the side, but again a question arises about the wisdom of sending an injury-prone bowler like Mashrafe for such a low-profile tournament, especially as the board has a policy to handle him very carefully with the 2015 World Cup looming. “If you talk about the injury concern then I am not too worried because it's a T20 tournament where the workload is not too high,” said Faruque.
Ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who is serving a six-month ban, understandably is not in the side but according to sources he may come into the team if the board takes a positive decision about reducing his punishment.
Cricket operations committee chairman Akram Khan defended the board's position by saying: “We have decided to send the best possible team because we want to earn the gold medal again. The expectation is high as we won the gold in the last edition. The selectors already submitted the team but Mushfiqur has opted out for his marriage ceremony.”
Banned batsman Mohammad Ashraful led a second-string Bangladesh side to the gold medal in cricket, a sport that featured for the first time in the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China in 2010.