England cricketers Matt Prior (L) and Paul Collingwood lunge during their training session yesterday afternoon while (R) Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan (L) and newcomer Jahurul Islam stand arm-in-arm during their practice session at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong in the morning yesterday. PHOTOS: ZOBAER HOSSAIN SIKDER
The first Test of the two-match series between Bangladesh and England gets underway at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium today under scorching heat. The big question is whether Bangladesh can pull off a big surprise against a new-look England in the five-day game? However, it was Bangladesh batsman Rokibul Hasan who hogged the spotlight yesterday. All the interest has centered on the surprise retirement decision of Rokibul as everybody was searching for the real reason behind the mysterious decision.
But Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan wanted to put behind all the emotional issues to shift the focus to the challenge they were going to face against Alastair Cook's men in the five-day contest.
Rokibul, who came back strongly among the runs with a hundred followed by a half-century against the visitors in the three-day match, was very much in the team plan for the first Test and definitely his sudden withdrawal came as a setback for the home side but the young Bangladesh skipper was very much practical about the current situation.
“I want to put behind all these things and I think boys are focusing on the game. Nobody is indispensable and you know, it's natural that someone come to fulfill the vacuum because in this world you can not expect a place to be vacuumed for someone no matter how big he is or not,” said a confident Shakib while talking at the pre-match press conference after a training session at the venue.
“I don't believe that the incident will effect our performance because we don't want it. We are fully focusing on the game. What happened has happened. There is no scope to be too much emotional in this professional world. Nobody is superman and one should think with his head and not his heart when he takes any decision,” he added.
The all-rounder informed that they were surprised when Rokibul disclosed his desire in the team bus on way to the hotel from the stadium and everybody in the team tried their best to change his mind but the young batsman was adamant in his decision, which apparently irritated the Bangladesh skipper.
“It's a very emotional decision. Everybody tried their best to convince him but he didn't change his mind. He didn't even disclose the reason behind his decision. The decision is simply silly because there are ups and downs in every cricketer's career and one should accept it,” said Shakib.
“What can I say he made a big mistake. I think it's not Bangladesh cricket rather he (Rokibul) will be the sufferer for his decision,” added Shakib.
Uncapped Zahurul Islam flew in to replace Rokibul but the team management was not ready to give the highest run-getter in the just concluded National Cricket League a chance in the eleven rather keeping faith with the experienced Aftab Ahmed as the newcomer was left out along with pacer Shafiul Islam and left-arm spinner Enamul Haque.
Shakib made it clear that they will rely on their spin attack against England, who are believed to be weak against slow bowlers especially in the subcontinent conditions.
Left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak was chosen as a specialist spinner after Shakib ahead of Enamul, who once again failed to make it to the final squad while Mahmudullah Riyad and Nayeem Islam will be also there to support them.
“We are relying on our spin attack in this condition and hope it will be a good contest,” said Shakib.
And the Bangladesh captain above everything wants a good start to continue their recent good run of form.