Bangladesh had already secured their place in the ODI tri-series final ahead of yesterday’s match against hosts Ireland and so, it was expected that the team management would field an experimental playing eleven.
Given that the 17-member squad was stretched to 19 following the introduction of Taskin Ahmed and Forhad Reza late on, the dead rubber was the perfect opportunity to tinker with the squad.
Four changes were made as Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun, Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Mustafizur Rahman made way for Liton Das, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin and Rubel Hossain. It was perhaps a bit surprising though that the team management decided against resting the star players even though it was an opportunity to blood the youngsters.
The Big Five -- Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad and Tamim Iqbal -- were all named in the lineup but Mashrafe’s inclusion was slightly puzzling seeing as the Tigers’ ODI captain did not enter the series in the best of shapes.
It could be argued that Shakib and Tamim needed the matches with the top-order still being an area of concern. However, the fact that the Big Five featured in an experimental lineup shows that the Tigers’ think-tank are yet to break free of their comfort zone and test their strategic abilities.
According to Mashrafe, priority was to be given to the players from the initial World Cup squad but it could also be argued that the stage was set for youngsters such as Yasir Ali and Naeem Hasan to showcase their abilities, keeping in mind that changes could still be made to the World Cup team till May 22.
Perhaps their exclusion from the squad even in a match against a side like Ireland proved too discomforting for the team management and this just goes to show that while Bangladesh cricket has come a long way, the team’s reliance on the Big Five has only grown.
This also indicated that even with a 19-man squad, the pool of players that can be depended on at this stage of their World Cup preparations remains relatively small.
Bar Shakib, the other stalwarts could have been given a chance to recuperate before the tri-series final on May 17 and their departure for the World Cup in England, where the Tigers will play warm-up matches ahead of the mega event.
The truth of the matter though is that the Ireland series was to be used to gauge the squad’s performance ahead of cricket’s showpiece event. However, it seems that the team management can only experiment within the Big Five capsule even though it clearly was not their performances that needed to be assesed.