Sabbir's inclusion highlights lack of clarity
After terminating his contract with Betwinner News -- a sister concern of betting site Betwinner -- on Friday, Shakib Al Hasan was awarded captaincy of the Bangladesh T20I team the very next day as selectors announced a 17-member squad for the upcoming Asia Cup yesterday.
Confusion reigned when it came to the Tigers' squad for the event following some injury concerns alongside the controversy over Shakib's contract with Betwinner News and those issues forced selectors to delay announcing the squad and seek extra time to submit their squad.
Interestingly, Sabbir Rahman was recalled to the T20I side for the Asia Cup after two years despite not performing exceptionally in recent times. Others returning to the fore for the Asia Cup were Mushfiqur Rahim, who came back after missing the past two T20I series, and Saifuddin, who has recovered from injury.
Pacer Ebadot Hossain, who made his ODI debut in Zimbabwe, was included in the T20 side for the first time while Munim Shahriar, Najmul Hossain and Shoriful Islam were expectedly dropped due to poor performance.
There were rumours that selectors would opt to include Soumya Sarkar in the T20I squad after Liton Das was ruled out from the tournament after suffering a Grade-2 tear in Zimbabwe.
Instead, they named just two specialist openers in the form of Anamul Haque -- who made a return to the T20I side after seven years during the West Indies tour in July -- and Parvez Hossain Emon, who only made his debut in the third T20I in Zimbabwe.
Despite questions over his performance and approach in the shortest format, selectors kept Mahmudullah Riyad in the squad and also included injured wicketkeeper-batter Nurul Hasan Sohan, who underwent finger surgery recently.
Yet again, some of these decisions, such as the choice to include someone like Sabbir who was not even in contention for the national team, have lain bare the lack of clarity and consistency from the selectors.
Sabbir scored just 109 runs in six games in the last Bangladesh Premier League at a strike rate of 111.22 before the 30-year-old was dropped by the Chattogram Challengers for his poor performances.
There were hardly any exceptional performances from Sabbir in the Dhaka Premier League either as he struck a century and a fifty. He ended the 50-over competition with 515 runs from 15 games at an average of 39.61 and a strike rate of 102.38.
It was learned that Shakib had told Sabbir and Saifuddin to be prepared for the Asia Cup and that their inclusion was probably a reflection of the captain's desires.
"We decided to include Sabbir because he has experience in the domestic circuit in T20 format. All of us, including Shakib, sat together and prepared the team," chief selector Minhajul Abedin told the media yesterday after announcing the squad at BCB president Nazmul Hassan's residence.
Akin to the past, it seems that selectors are once again turning to someone like Sabbir not because of exceptional performances that merit a call-up, but simply because of a lack of competitiveness and an inability to perform that forces selectors to walk backwards.
"In some cases, a few players are given opportunities based on their international experience. Since we have injury concerns, we needed a middle-order batter in the squad. Since he will be playing a few one-day games for the A team in the West Indies, hopefully he will get the experience which will help him," he added.
Bangladesh Squad for Asia Cup 2022:
Shakib Al Hasan (C), Anamul Haque Bijoy, Mushfiqur Rahim, Afif Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mahedi Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mustafizur Rahman, Sabbir Rahman, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Ebadot Hossain, Parvez Hossain Emon, Nurul Hasan Sohan (subject to recovery from injury), Taskin Ahmed, Hasan Mahmud.