GUESE WHO'S THE NEXT DEBUTANT? Young opening batsman Zunaed Siddiqui (C) is about to grab the disk while playing the game of Frisbee as Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful (R) and Nazimuddin (L) look on during Bangladesh's final practice session ahead of the second one-day international against South Africa at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday. Nazimuddin, who replaced Zunaed, is set to make his one-day debut today.Photo: Anisur Rahman
A cloud of confusion hovers over Bangladesh cricket team after a sequence of losses in the last seven months. Now it is for us to imagine who is the most confused: the players or the team think-tank?
The question was raised as the team management returned to their old policy of 'cutting and chopping' in the name of combination by making two changes in the side for the second one-dayer of the three-match series to be held at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium today.
It seems that changing players one after the other is the only solution for the management to bring out the team from the vicious circle of failure -- better to say the batting debacles.
If the decision to bring back leading paceman and vice-captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza to the playing eleven was a surprising one, then the omission of left-handed opener Zunaed Siddiqui left a hundred questions to answer.
"We dropped Mashrafe in the first game because he didn't fit into our plans but what we now feel is that his experience and late-order batting can be handy in this condition," was the explanation of Ashraful behind his deputy's return for the second game.
Alas! He did not feel the value of experience in the first match in Chittagong where they meekly surrendered in an embarrassing nine-wicket defeat against the Proteas to put more misery on their frustrating performance in the two-match Test series.
The word 'experience' actually sounded ridiculous after the way players were brought into the fold and then were thrown away and Zunaed was the latest example of the concept.
Zunaed's performance in the four one-day matches (35 runs) was nothing more than ordinary.
But don't forget what the team management always said while defending inclusions of any young player in the side -- 'he has the ability and talent and you must give him enough time to flourish in this level, we don't want to make frequent changes in the team and something like that'.
And now outcome of only four matches was good enough to change their heart to bring another young guy into the frying pan of international cricket. Middle-order batsman Nazimuddin will make his one-day debut, seventh in seven months, and none can say how much time he will get to show his potential or how long the team management will keep their patience on the Chittagonian.
"Zunaed, we feel is a little low on confidence after not getting runs in four one-day matches so far he has played. The most important thing is that he could not perform to our expectations," explained Ashraful.
But one may raise the same questions against few other players in the Bangladesh team including the captain himself.
Chief selector Rafiqul Alam however came up with a different explanation as he said that they have taken the decision to strengthen the middle-order as they missed the services of Aftab Ahmed.
"It's not true that we returned to the 'cut and chop' policy rather we are focused on our own policy to give the young players enough opportunities to find a right combination before the next World Cup in 2011," said Rafiqul.
"What we felt was that we need one batsman in the middle-order and we included Nazimuddin who is one of our future prospects. And I think it would work if experienced (Shahriar) Nafees open the innings with Tamim (Iqbal)," added the former national player.
Then the question was that why they unnecessarily tried Nafees in the middle-order.
"It's because of combination," was the reply of chief selector.
Lets see how the combination works in the second match. Ashraful however was confident to win the match but the precondition was: we have to bat well.