Tigers focus on levelling series
It was a rather exciting day for Liton Das when he woke up in the morning yesterday as the stand-in captain of the Bangladesh ODI team, a day after regular skipper Tamim Iqbal announced his retirement from international cricket.
As anticipated, Tamim's retirement issue hogged all the attention during the official pre-match press conference at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium in Chattogram yesterday.
Liton entertained a few questions regarding Tamim's shock retirement, but tried to revert focus back on his team's immediate objective: keep the series alive by winning the crucial second and penultimate ODI against Afghanistan today.
At one point, however, Liton lost his composure as reporters remained adamant at bringing Tamim's issue back.
"We have a match tomorrow, it is better if we don't talk about this [Tamim's retirement] topic anymore. We are still one-nil down in the series. The biggest concern to us is how we can win the series. More importantly, how we can play good cricket tomorrow."
Liton, who had previously led Bangladesh during the 2-1 ODI series win over India in absence of Tamim last year, added that the Tigers have no option but to move forward without the veteran.
"I think all our teammates are focused only on one thing. Tamim bhai even mentioned 'team come first' while leaving. I don't think there is any point talking about it. Since BCB gave me the responsibility, I will try to give my hundred per cent. We will try to play good cricket and bring out a positive result," said Liton.
As the day progressed, however, Tamim's retirement saga took a U-turn as the 34-year-old decided to withdraw his retirement after meeting the Prime Minister yesterday afternoon.
Although Tamim is set to be on leave and join the Tigers from the Asia Cup, Liton and his troops as the hosts will look to regroup and make a comeback in the series after losing the first ODI quite comprehensively.
Meanwhile, Rony Talukdar was called up as Tamim's back-up but Naim Sheikh is expected to open the innings with Liton.
On Wednesday, Bangladesh's batting was lacklustre, devoid of partnerships -- with no positives apart from Towhid Hridoy's fifty -- as the hosts eventually posted 169 for nine in 43 overs.
"First 10 overs were a bit challenging in the first ODI, but we handled it well. I don't have any complaints regarding uneven bounce. Our mistake was that we failed to execute as batters.
"If you look at our dismissals, there were hardly any good deliveries. There will be days when you will get out to scoring deliveries, it was such a day," Liton further said.
The challenge to tackle the world-class Afghan spinners will remain for Bangladesh, with the likes of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi expected to test the Tigers yet again.
On the other camp, there could be bad news in store for the visitors as pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi -- Player of the Match in the first ODI pacer who picked up three wickets -- is doubtful for today's game after he suffered a niggle on Wednesday and had to leave the ground.