Third seamer conundrum | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 01, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:32 AM, June 01, 2019

Third seamer conundrum

As if on cue, just before a big event a settled team combination for Bangladesh now looks uncertain ahead of their World Cup opener against South Africa tomorrow at The Oval. The Tigers had a fair idea of their bowling combination, having persisted with pace-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin through the Ireland tri-series earlier this month in the belief that the youngster would be an ideal option to support the main pacers in ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Mustafizur Rahman, while shoring up the lower order with his batting ability.

But the back spasms he suffered in the warm-up against India on May 27 has put his participation in doubt for tomorrow's game. Fortunately for Bangladesh, they have an able replacement in fast bowler Rubel Hossain, who took two wickets in the warm-up, but bowling coach Courtney Walsh hinted Saifuddin is the first choice.

"Rubel has not played a lot of games leading up to the World Cup. If you are going to have three pacers, I think they will probably stick with the guys who have been playing so far," Walsh said yesterday. "With Saifuddin's injury, it has opened up again. You have to play who is fitter on the day. If Saifuddin doesn't come through tomorrow [Saturday], then to think about it. If he comes through, the headache is for the selectors about who to leave out."

It is a marker of how far Bangladesh have come that selectorial headaches now extend to the bowling department. "It's a good thing to have that kind of depth. At the moment we are pretty confident that we have got enough in terms of bowlers if someone breaks down or pulls out of the game at the last minute."

As far as the pace department goes, Mustafizur's performance in the warm-up match, where he troubled India's top order with pace and swing, was particularly pleasing for Walsh.  "I said from day one when he got injured [in 2016] that it would take some time to heal and for him to get strong and match-fit. And he is heading in the right direction," Walsh said when asked if the Fizz was back to his best. "Only now he is getting back to where he was. Confidence will come with that, his natural strength will come back. It was not a minor injury that he had; it's good to see him heading in the right direction."

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