9 days ago

Naim making a case for the World Cup squad

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Mohammad Naim’s international career went off to a flying start when he scored a brilliant 81 against India in his third Twenty20 International.

However, in the three years or so, that hype about him turned sour as the batter was constantly criticised for his slowish approach in the shortest format.

His T20 career, at least for the time being, ended after a disastrous 2021 T20 World Cup, where Bangladesh failed to win any of the games in the Super 12 stage.

While he was regular in the T20 side for the whole of 2021, his One-Day Internationals career never really materialised. He got into the XI twice, once against Zimbabwe in 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic halted all play, and once in May 2021 against Sri Lanka. In the first match, he did not even have the chance to bat, while in the second, he could just add a run to his ODI tally before getting out.

All of this makes it quite impossible for the left-handed batter to be included in the World Cup 2023 Bangladesh squad. However, with his brilliant run in the recently-concluded Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League 2023, Naim has made himself a candidate for the squad.

While Bangladesh are set to field Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das as their openers in the World Cup, they still need a backup opener, and Rony Talukdar is not going to be that.

Anamul Haque and Zakir Hasan have a strong case for that spot, and the latter might have even made his debut in place of Rony in the recent Ireland series if not for a finger injury which had ruled him out for the home Ireland series in March.

However, Naim is also making a case for himself with his DPL heroics. En route to making his side Abahani Limited regain their championship crown, Naim scored runs for fun.

In 16 innings, Naim has scored 932 runs with an average of 71.69, alongside a strike rate of 91.64. On his way, he has hit 10 fifties and a century, meaning he did not go past the 50-mark in only five innings.

He started the campaign with a brilliant 85 off 74 balls against Brothers Union. Then he ended it with a composed 68 off 79 balls against Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club, a knock that saw Abahani crowned champions officially.

While his record and image might see his chances of getting a shot at the World Cup squad hindered, Naim has put up a performance for the ages in the Bangladesh domestic circuit as this is the second-highest runs scored in a DPL season ever, behind Anamul’s record-breaking 1138 runs.

As per the chief of the national team selection panel, though, Naim still has a fair shot.

“Naim is definitely doing very well. He was in our High-Performance team. He will be checked out in the upcoming series of the Bangladesh A team. A lot of players have performed in the DPL, and they are being monitored. He (Naim) will definitely be in the 24-player pool for the upcoming World Cup,” Minhajul Abedin, Bangladesh National Team chief selector, said recently.

Naim was not in the XI for Bangladesh A’s first four-day match against West Indies A, but there are still two matches. He will hope that he gets a chance, and if he does, who knows what might happen in the next four months leading to the World Cup.

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