Wednesday, 28 September, 2022

Tigers shift focus to dynamo from little dynamite

  • Sports Correspondent
  • 16 August, 2022 12:00 AM
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Tigers shift focus to dynamo from little dynamite
All-rounders Shakib Al Hasan (left) and Afif Hossain are seen during a practice session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur recently. Wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim is also seen in the insert. – TANVIN TAMIM

Whenever a senior cricketer returns to the national set-up, in most cases, the junior who replaced him seems to pass sleepless nights considering he is likely to lose his place or favourite batting position to accommodate the experienced campaigner.

Afif Hossain, the Tigers’ new kid on the block, couldn’t think of being an exception after Mushfiqur Rahim returned to the T20 side for the upcoming Asia Cup.

The left-hander earlier replaced Mushfiqur at number four (as the latter was not part of the team) during the recently-concluded T20I series against Zimbabwe and he also fared well in the final two matches.

However, Bangladesh team director Khaled Mahmud assured the left-handed batsman in public on Monday that he doesn’t need to lose his sleep over his batting position in the shortest format as they won’t make any change after considering him (Afif) as the future of Bangladesh cricket.

“We will give him (Afif) a chance there (at number four in the T20 Asia Cup),” Mahmud told reporters at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.

“We are thinking of Afif in a specific role and he is a dynamo. I think he is very confident and really played well in the last two series and even batted well in the ODIs.

“We want to give Afif the place because he is our future…The most important thing is that he is attacking and we want that in our team and he is turning out to be an important player for Bangladesh and it is our responsibility to give him that opportunity,” he added.

Mahmud, however, didn’t rule out the experienced campaigner altogether as he believed that Mushfiqur can be used as a makeshift opener in the tournament - taking his vast experience of handling spin into account.

 Bangladesh picked Anamul Haque Bijoy and Parvez Hossain Emon for the opening slot in their 17-member squad after regular opener Liton Das was ruled out due to injury.

The team management didn’t go for Soumya Sarkar or Mohammad Naim as a backup option as they are well aware of their shortcomings against the spinners.

Bangladesh will begin their tournament campaign against Afghanistan on August 30 in Sharjah before they face Sri Lanka in the last Group B match on September 1 in Dubai.

The Daily Sun understands that the team management is expected to sit with Mushfiqur in a day or two to inform him about their plan of promoting him as a top-order batsman.

Meanwhile, they can also wait until the arrival of Russell Domingo, who is expected to be here on August 19.

“Though we have Anamul and Emon as regular openers, there are a couple of other cricketers who opened in domestic cricket. It can be Mushfiqur, Shakib, Mahedi or Mehidy Hasan and so we have a lot of options in our hands,” said Mahmud.

Mahmud later told The Daily Sun that they are seriously considering Mushfiqur for the opening slot.

“We are thinking of promoting Mushfiqur at the top in the Asia Cup because he is vastly experienced in handling spin and pace and we feel he can be a very good option,” said the team director.

“If we feel that Mushfiqur looks to be the best option we may go with him. I think it can be a good move for him as well considering he will be getting 120 balls and if he gets going from the start, we are likely to post a big total on the board,” he added.

Mushfiqur, who is making a return to the T20 set-up, so far opened only once in his T20I career and it was against Afghanistan in a tri-series game in Mirpur in 2019 where he could make only five runs.