‘Afif is our future’
The Bangladesh think-tank is considering changes to the batting order for the Asia Cup, slated to start on August 27, with the intention of changing the Tigers' dwindling fortunes in the shortest format of the game.
Following impressive recent performances with the bat, Afif Hossain is set to get a settled batting position. According to team director Khaled Mahmud, the youngster is being considered at the number four position in place of experienced Mushfiqur Rahim for the upcoming Asia Cup.
Mushfiqur missed the West Indies series as he took leave to perform Hajj before being rested for the Zimbabwe tour, where Afif made his mark. The southpaw scored 50 off just 38 balls in the third T20I in the West Indies and proved instrumental during the three-match T20I series in Zimbabwe despite his batting position continually changing.
"We're thinking of a certain position for Afif. He is a dynamo. He is a confident boy and has been batting brilliantly in T20Is. More importantly, he is an aggressive batter which is what we are looking for. He is our future, we want to give him the opportunity," Mahmud told the media yesterday.
The former Bangladesh captain also said that the team management had Mushfiqur in mind alongside skipper Shakib Al Hasan and a few other players as back-up options for the opening slots after the selectors picked just two out-and-out openers in the form of Anamul Haque and Parvez Hossain for the Asia Cup.
Selectors had initially named a 17-member squad for the Asia Cup due to injury concerns but it was learned that would eventually be cut down to a 15-member squad.
There has been plenty of talk about the approach and attitude from Bangladeshi batters, especially in the shortest format of the game. The Tigers have won just four of their last 18 T20Is since the last ICC T20I World Cup in 2021.
In a bid to turn things around and inspire the team to play a fearless brand of cricket, the team management opted to inject fresh faces into the team ahead of the Zimbabwe tour and even named Nurul Hasan Sohan as captain in place of regular skipper Mahmudullah Riyad.
But things remain unchanged. The visitors went on to lose the three-match T20I series 2-1, with Bangladesh falling 10 runs short in chase of a modest target of 157 runs in the last game.
According to Mahmud, batters need to play with clarity and a fearless attitude in the upcoming Asia Cup.
"We are unable to create that attacking mindset because there are doubts in the batters' mind. When you are playing T20Is, whether you need to score 180 or you are all out on 100, I am in favour of such an attitude. If you want to win, you need to score big," Mahmud told the media yesterday.
With the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup scheduled for later this year in Australia, Mamud informed that the team management was preparing accordingly.
"When you play the World Cup in Australia, you are not going to win by scoring 120-130. You need to play for 180. Even if we are bundled out for 110, I won't mind if we play with an attacking mindset. But I want the boys to play aggressive cricket," he added.