Bangladesh national players crunch in some valuable gym-time at the indoor facilities of Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday afternoon. National selectors are expected to announce the final squad for the West Indies series before Eid. PHOTO: STAR
A career boasting 206 ODI wickets at an economy rate of 4.54 and a sleek average of 28.86 suggests that slow left-armer Abdur Razzak is not going to face any hurdles when it comes to making the final squad for next month's West Indies tour. However, his performances in the last few months have put the national selectors in a big dilemma as they finalise the squad for the three-match ODI series and the lone T20I.
The Faruque Ahmed-led selection panel is going to submit the final team for the limited-overs leg before the Eid break while the team for the two-match Test series will be announced later. His recent performances has led to whispers that Razzak does not have much left in the tank as far as international cricket goes. His inclusion or omission will be a major talking point when Faruque Ahmed meets with his colleagues, head coach Chandika Hathurusingha and captain Mushfiqur Rahim before finalising the team.
Strong opinions abound on the subject, among the team think-tank, of whether to jettison the country's leading ODI wicket-taker, especially with the World Cup looming. Arafat Sunny is an option and he has a slight edge over his senior competitor by dint of his recent international performances, but he may miss the Caribbean flight for his unimpressive performance on the recent visit to West Indies with the A team. Young left-arm spinner Taijul Islam is also in the side but according to sources close to the team the selectors want to capitalise on his longer-version prospects, but not for this tour.
Working in Razzak's favour is the absence of star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.
The unavailability of Shakib, who was handed a six-month ban by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) for breaching the players' code of conduct, has forced a change to the original plan but chief selector Faruque said yesterday that it will hardly affect the team.
“Shakib is an important player. His absence means you have to play with an extra bowler or an extra batsman but the fact is that we have enough back-up players in the side. We have Shabbir Rahman, Shuvagoto Hom and Mohammad Mithun. The team played without Shakib earlier and I don't think the team will suffer a lot from his absence. But again, nobody wants to miss the service of a player like Shakib,” said Faruque.
The conditions in West Indies call for a good pace attack but Faruque believes that a team should rely on their stronger point and for Bangladesh that is their spin attack. But it is undeniable that this spin attack will miss someone like Shakib who has taken 30 international wickets from 18 matches -- the highest for Bangladesh this year with pacer Al-Amin holding second place with 18 wickets from 15 matches.
Leading paceman Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is now fully fit while young paceman Taskin Ahmed already impressed many by his performance in limited-overs cricket, but neither will be a part of the Test squad as the selectors are eager to utilise them full in the World Cup. And in that scenario Robiul Islam, who had a good showing with the A team on the recent Caribbean trip, will lead the attack along with Al-Amin and Rubel Hossain in the Test series. Another impressive pace-bowling all-rounder on the A team's Caribbean trip, Mukter Ali, may get the final nod for the limited-over series.