Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Mithun is the surprise inclusion in Bangladesh's 15-man squad for the upcoming World Twenty20. Bangladesh have also recalled allrounder Nasir Hossain for the tournament that starts in India from March 8.
Mithun's selection means the Bangladesh squad has three wicketkeeper-batsmen, including Mushfiqur Rahim and Nurul Hasan, although the keeping duties will likely be taken up by Nurul. Mithun last played a T20 international in August 2014 though that game against West Indies was abandoned due to a thunderstorm. He played mostly for Bangladesh A thereafter, and hit a century for the team on their tour of Zimbabwe in November last year. Although he made only 130 runs in nine innings for Rangpur Riders in BPL 2015, his two half-centuries in practice matches after the Zimbabwe series last month played some part in his selection.
Nasir's recall is less surprising as Shuvagata Hom, who was tried in his place in the four-match T20 series against Zimbabwe in January, didn't quite grab the spot with his performances while batting or bowling.
Chief selector Faruque Ahmed explained that Mithun's inclusion wasn't straightforward but his performances for Bangladesh A and his ability to shuttle between the top and middle order were taken into consideration. Faruque said that Imrul Kayes, who played two of the four T20s against Zimbabwe, was also considered but eventually missed the cut.
"Mithun impressed in South Africa and Zimbabwe for Bangladesh A last year," Faruque said. "We thought of a particular place, and we discussed that with the coaching staff. This is why we picked Mithun as a batsman who can play in the top and middle order. He is quite experienced in this format. We always felt he is a T20 player and his A-team performance put him in consideration.
"Mithun wasn't fully fit during the Zimbabwe series but he was at the training camp in Khulna that was held after the international series. He performed well there in the practice matches. But at the top level, we haven't seen his full potential. Mithun is a good player who can show his worth if given chance in the right time and place. We had to think long and hard about Imrul [Kayes] and Mithun. The team management - coach and captain - discussed this at length and I think we all took a good decision."
Among the 18 players who played the Zimbabwe T20Is in January, Mosaddek Hossain, Imrul, Shuvagata, Muktar Ali and Mohammad Shahid haven't made the World T20 squad. Faruque said that the experimentation in the series was done because Bangladesh doesn't have a settled T20 line-up.
"Experimenting with players doesn't guarantee their selection," he said. "We experiment to see if we can find something particular from a player. Until the end of the World T20, we can't say whether the experimentation was success or failure. We did a similar thing in 2014 when we picked Sabbir for the T20s against Sri Lanka ahead of that year's World T20. This is a format where we still have room for improvement."
Faruque said that Nurul, 'arguably one of the best wicketkeepers in the country', is likely to take the keeping gloves during the tournament. The youngster had also impressed with his late-order batting against Zimbabwe.
"We don't have a T20 specialist as such," Faruque said. "Sohan [Nurul] has been playing in the A team in the last two years and also recently for the national team. He is arguably one of the best wicketkeepers in the country. He has innovation in his batting and we feel he will be most effective in T20s."
Faruque said that Bangladesh's Asia Cup T20 squad would be "very similar" to the World T20 squad: "Imrul, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Shuvagata and Muktar will also join this squad in their training camp in Chittagong [from February 7]. They are the four standbys and have been kept with the Asia Cup in mind."
Bangladesh are placed in Group A in the first round of the World T20, with Netherlands, Ireland and Oman. They will begin their campaign against Netherlands on March 9 in Dharamsala. The team that tops Group A will join India, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand in Group 2 of the Super 10s stage.