Stand-in Bangladesh T20 captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is in his delivery stride during practice at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong yesterday. PHOTO: STAR
With Bangladesh's 15-member T20 World Cup squad due to be submitted by February 15, the two-match series against Sri Lanka, which begins tomorrow, will be more than just about winning the series for the hosts. This is also the last opportunity for players, especially the new ones who joined the squad, to make a mark and impress the national selectors.
The main challenge for the hosts in this series will be to play without two of their key players -- Mushfiqur Rahim and Abdur Razzak -- both of whom played key roles in this format in the past and have been rested due to injuries.
The absence however means that some of the uncapped players might get opportunities to prove their worth.
With Mithun Ali and Anamul Haque, there are two wicketkeeper-batsmen in the side who could possibly replace Mushfiqur. The uncapped Mithun is a talented middle-order batsman who has been among the runs this year. However, with Anamul having top-scored in the recently concluded Victory Day T20 cup, where he even scored a century, it is likely for him to get the nod.
Bangladesh have generally gone into T20 games with seven batsmen and four bowlers other than Shakib Al Hasan. However, with Razzak not in the team, the combination might change and they could bring in an extra batsman, in which case the duties of a fifth bowler would be handled by the likes of Nasir Hossain and Mahmudullah Riyad. The extra batsman could well be Sabbir Rahman, who also impressed in the V-Day T20 cup, scoring 268 runs at a 50-plus average. They do however have Arafat Sunny, a talented slow-left armer, in the side who can be a good replacement for Razzak.
Also with medium-pace-bowling allrounder Forhad Reza in the side, the combination and permutations can further intensify.
With so much food for thought, the team management have a little over a day to take the final call.
As of now though, apart from the team selection there are a few other minor issues that have to be dealt with.
Both the expected openers of the match, Tamim Iqbal and Shamsur Rahman, did not train at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium yesterday. Tamim, who had hurt his neck during an optional training session the day before, left after a warm-up session. He was seen with a strap-on supporting his neck. Shamsur, on the other hand, reportedly came down with a fever and was asked to rest. The players are however expected to recover in time for the series.
The other unique feature going into the T20 series is the rare barrier set between the team and the media till yesterday, with the players instructed not to speak to the media by the management.
The bar was placed after Tamim's sudden resignation as vice-captain, which he had announced through a social networking website.
While this did not ostensibly affect team spirit, it did however create a rather different atmosphere on the field yesterday.