Sabbir fine with No. 3 challenge
As Bangladesh get ready to begin their toughest international assignment of the year, Sabbir Rahman will look to solve a problem that Bangladesh's batting order has been suffering for quite a while now: the number three conundrum.
There was a time when the likes of Habibul Bashar and Aftab Ahmed occupied this position on a regular basis and it was not much of a headache. However, in the last five years the Tigers have tested and tried a number of players and have struggled to find a permanent option at the top.
Since 2013 they have tried Mominul Haque, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Mithun and Jahurul Islam at number three and none of the players seemed to satisfy the team management.
Aftab Ahmed remains the only Bangladeshi player to score more than 1000 runs in this position, while none have great averages in this position.
Amongst batsmen who have played at least 10 ODIs at number three, the highest batting average is 28.06, held by Mominul Haque.
Sabbir Rahman played his first game at number three in Bangladesh's last ODI against Afghanistan. And although he looked a bit iffy at the beginning, he managed to pass that phase and eventually scored a valuable half-century.
While he batted at three for the first time in the last ODI, he has immense experience in that position in T20Is. In 19 T20Is, he has scored 504 runs at an average of 33 at number three.
It goes to show that he does have the potential to fill that vacuum. However, considering Bangladesh's tryst with that position, reaching an immediate conclusion would not be the right thing to do.
Sabbir though, remains confident and believes he can excel at three.
"In the last match our coach asked me if I could play at number three and I said yes. I have been batting at number three for the last few years. I even batted at number three in the Dhaka Premier League. I think I will be comfortable with this role. But I am ready to play at any position for my team," said Sabbir following Bangladesh's training session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Speaking ahead of the ODIs against England, Sabbir reckoned that England would face a completely different environment from their practice match against BCB XI.
"It is not that easy to chase 300 runs and they managed to do that regardless. However, many of our good bowlers didn't bowl in that game, the main match will be a different ball game," said Sabbir.
With the Tigers having struggled with Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, there is focus on England leggie Adil Rashid. "As we have played against a difficult leg-spinner, we are not very worried about Rashid," he added.