Soumya finds a seat in BCB’s game of musical chairs
The growing list of injured cricketers in the Bangladesh camp has made it a challenge for selectors to even form the squad for the Asia Cup T20, scheduled to begin from August 27 in the UAE.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board had already petitioned to submit their squad for the event on August 11 instead of the cut-off date on August 8, permission for which was granted by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).
More than six cricketers are currently on the doctor's table, with in-form opener Liton Das ruled out for weeks after suffering a Grade-2 tear during the first ODI against Zimbabwe on Friday and unlikely to feature in the Asia Cup.
Bangladesh's think-tank opted to provide an opportunity to younger players in the three match T20I series against Zimbabwe late last month. But the Tigers lost that series 2-1, with no players raising their hands and proving their worth, especially in the middling batting department.
A big example of the lack of foresight from the think-tank was the inclusion of regular skipper Mahmudullah Riyad, who was initially rested for the T20I series in Zimbabwe after a string of poor performances. Interestingly, Mahmudullah was recalled as a replacement for injured stand-in skipper Nurul Hasan for the third and series-saving encounter but was not handed the captaincy, raising many eyebrows.
Meanwhile, those who were given the opportunity failed to make anything of it, with the likes of Munim Shahriar, Anamul Haque and Najmul Hossain unable to step up and make a strong statement to the selectors. That forced selectors to wait for Liton till the eleventh hour before announcing the squad for the Asia Cup.
Akin to the past, it seems that selectors may once again look to players that were dropped from the national side due to dismal performances. It is not that those players have performed exceptionally elsewhere to merit a call-up but simply because of a lack of competitiveness and an inability to perform that forces selectors to walk backwards.
In line with that theme, Soumya Sarkar was the latest name that was put forward as a candidate for the opening position. The left-hander was dropped from the T20I side after a disappointing performance in the last ICC T20 World Cup, but it is not as if he has performed exceptionally since.
Despite showing glimpses of his potential, Soumya could not justify his place after scoring 1,136 runs in 66 T20Is at a strike rate of 122.15 and an average of just 18.03.
But according to sources, selectors want to place faith on Soumya due to his naturally free-flowing stroke-making ability on bouncy pitches with the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia later this year in mind.
It will be interesting to see whether the continuing games of musical chairs will ultimately benefit Bangladesh or whether they will once again end up as yet another stopgap solution.