Let's not overcook the Tigers | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:34 AM, April 19, 2019

Let's not overcook the Tigers

The much-anticipated Bangladesh squad for the ICC World Cup was announced, putting an to end all the speculation about the candidates for a few positions in the team. The guessing games ended following the official announcement but surely the analyses surrounding squad composition will not end, especially as there has been a hint from the concerned authorities that a few changes are not unlikely after the Ireland series, which will lead into the mega event.

Regardless of whether it is a squad for the World Cup or any other series or tournament, the national team receives the sharpest focus from various 'freelance selectors', who are apart from the official selection panel, and when it came to a World Cup squad it got the maximum attention.

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Even Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan tried his best in the last few months to satisfy curious reporters by providing some thoughts on the World Cup squad. When the Minhajul Abedin-led selection panel disclosed the 15-member squad, they were however true to the words of Hassan, who had said that there was no scope for any surprises as there are not enough options to induce a gasp when the list was revealed.

There had hardly been any evidence that the board worked on any long-term planning with the World Cup, so the inclusion of Abu Jayed probably was not a surprise or any well-planned policy; it was rather a typical Bangladesh think-tank ploy of fulfilling the immediate, last-minute need. There was no uproar following the team announcement, save for some emotional outbursts, which has drawn cynical callbacks to the mob mentality that produces popular phrases like “Oh! if only Nasir [Hossain] was there”. So, it was a most desired squad reveal indeed.

But can we say that it is the most assured side that is going to take part in the showpiece event in the United Kingdom this summer? When we are filling balloons of hope with our World Cup chances this time around, everybody actually has been banking on the Big Five (Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah Riyad).

It's now no secret that this 'Big Five' can make magic together, especially in the 50-over format, and they are probably standing in a position to do something big for the country by putting in their concerted best most probably for the last time together in the mega event.

But what about the others?

They are tried, but most probably not trusted. That is the reason the unfortunate conjunction that always comes to fore: “if” Liton Das can play his part or “if” Soumya Sarkar can come up with his best. It's not as if they have not performed and sometimes rose to the occasion, like what Rubel Hossain did in Adelaide in the last World Cup in 2015.

Rubel was one of the heroes who etched his name in golden letters in Bangladesh cricket history after helping Tigers reach the quarterfinals by defeating England with his 4 for 53, including the last two English wickets that proved crucial for Bangladesh in the pulsating win.

Still, the sordid part of history is that the 29-year-old paceman is yet to become an automatic choice for the team after spending 10 years in international cricket. Instead, the veteran Mashrafe is playing the leading role in the pace attack. Even Mustafizur Rahman is going through the most difficult phase of his career after his stupendous arrival on the international scene. 

This is the reality surrounding the national team. Who will pick up the baton after the Big Five remains the most important question. And this reality could not be avoided when the selectors picked their "Best Side".

There is a lot of scope for the BCB high-ups to research on the dearth but right at this moment they have to keep confidence on their best available resources rather than creating any panic by saying that there is a chance to make some changes to the squad. If there is an injury issue, that would be a different question but other than that the think-tank cannot expect any miracles to give the World Cup squad a more complete shape. Yes, we love to dribble with expert opinions but nobody can go beyond reality.  

Last-minute changes are nothing new for a Bangladesh side, especially as the powers that be were saying that they would keenly follow the Ireland performance. They have enough time on their hands to make a few adjustments as other teams like England and India also indicated about last-moment changes.  

But for Bangladesh, which does not have the wealth of resources as the two aforementioned teams, it is time to grow confidence among players so that they can grow stronger as a unit before the tournament proper. Turning non-performers into performers and petering out the inconsistency with a trick is not a quickfire job but if the tried ones can understand the value of their talent and flourish on the biggest stage of the game, then the Tigers have a good chance to become a good contender in the 10-team battle.

In the end, there is no way that we can reach a relieved state with our “Best squad”, but let's be positive and optimistic about a team that has established itself as a strong force in one-day cricket.

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