No real options in the middle | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 29, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:08 AM, January 29, 2020

No real options in the middle

Soon after the 15-member squad for the recently concluded three-match T20I series against Pakistan was announced, questions were raised about the batting combination as the squad included as many as six batsmen who have opened either in the international or domestic circuit.

While Tamim Iqbal has established himself as the anchor at the top, the roles of the other batters remained unspecified as the Tigers’ horrendous batting display saw them being humiliated and lose the series 2-0 with the final game being washed out due to rain.

Even after a decent start by the openers in the first game, the Tigers were only able to manage a modest 141 for five. Liton Das and Afif Hossain, who lit up the BBPL while opening for Rajshahi Royals, did not contribute much after coming to bat at three and five respectively.

Mahmudullah, who usually comes down the order, hit an unbeaten 14-ball 19 at number four while Soumya Sarkar could only manage a five-ball seven playing in the lower order.

A batting change was in the cards for the second game but the only thing that was altered was the inclusion of Mahedi Hasan, who replaced Mohammad Mithun, in the number three position instead of Liton, resulting in Mahmudullah and others having to bat even lower. However, the condition worsened as this time Tigers were restricted to 136 for six with Liton, Afif and Soumya all failing to deliver at positions unfamiliar to them.

But could the team management be actually blamed for putting all these top-order players in new positions? If looked at closely, the answer only reveals how unfortunate and helpless the management is while trying to tackle batting order problems. These aforementioned players were the ones who had impressed in the recently concluded Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League, but none of the locals had impressed while batting lower down the order.

Mushfiqur Rahim opted out of the Pakistan tour due to security concerns while another stalwart, Shakib Al Hasan, has been banned for a year by the ICC.

The void left by Shakib and especially Mushfiqur, who has been the main source of quick runs in the middle order for the Tigers in both T20Is and ODIs, could not be filled with the sudden inclusion of players like Liton, Afif or Soumya in new positions.

While it is also unreasonable to hope that any of these aforementioned players would rise to the occasion and shine in an alien position, the sad reality for the country’s cricket is that there are no other options at hand for the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) at the moment.

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