No. 3 and 4 key to Tigers’ batting stability
Ahead of Bangladesh's two-Test series against the West Indies, all eyes were on the Tigers' top-order in their three-day warm-up game against CWI President's XI in Antigua that concluded yesterday. However, other than Tamim Iqbal's unbeaten 162, there weren't many highlights for the Tigers in the batting department.
There has long been a concern regarding Bangladesh's opening slot. With young Mahmudul Hasan Joy showing glimpses in his first few outings, the quest to find a stable opening partner for Tamim seemed to have come to an end.
Joy, who is still in the early stages of his career, must keep his tendency to play away from the body in check if the youngster hopes to make his mark in the tough Windies tour.
Even if Joy manages to rein in his penchant for playing away from his body, the major area of concern for the Tigers will be their number three and four position in the batting line-up. In fact, these two spots have been a point of vulnerability for Bangladesh in the longest format of the game for some time now.
The team management has pinned their hopes on young Najmul Hossain Shanto to provide stability at number three and the left-hander did get a few starts before failing in the last home series against Sri Lanka, scoring in single digits in four innings.
He did score a fifty in the practice game. But in order to strengthen the Tigers' fragile top-order, Shanto will need to do much more than that and provide Bangladesh the platform to score big.
More than flaws in his technique, questions have been raised over Shanto's decision-making as the 23-year-old has often dug a hole for himself by not being able to contain his urge to play shots even when the situation demanded a safe approach.
Tigers' batting coach Jamie Siddons, however, backed Shanto before travelling to the Caribbean. The Australian believed in Shanto's potential and mentioned that the team management is likely to give the youngster another chance and play him in the first Test in Antigua, starting from June 16.
On the other hand, Mominul Haque, who stepped down from his role as the Test captain following massive criticism for his poor run of form, was unable to see any turn of fortune as the left-hander was unable to open his account even in the warm-up game.
Mominul will be under constant scrutiny in the Windies series, especially as the left-hander has only managed to produce single-digit scores in his last seven innings. The absence of the experienced Mushfiqur Rahim also means that Bangladesh would desperately need Mominul to step up.
According to many, with the burden of captaincy non-existent, the 30-year-old will be able to play freely and express himself better in the challenging Caribbean condition where Tigers' batters have always struggled in the past.
Much like the entire Bangladesh team, Mominul would also want to improve his record in the West Indies. The left-hander has only scored 138 runs in eight innings at an average of 17.25 in the Caribbean.
The two-match Test series in the West Indies will be a new beginning for skipper Shakib Al Hasan as well. And whether it will be a successful tour for Bangladesh and Shakib will heavily depend on how batters at number three and four in the line-up fare.