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The Financial Express

Does Naim Sheikh fit into the Test side?


Photo: ESPNcricinfo Photo: ESPNcricinfo

After losing to Pakistan in the first test of the two-match series, Bangladesh is hoping to give a fightback in the second and last encounter. 

Facing defeats in their last nine international games, the team selectors of Bangladesh are having a hard time figuring out the right set of players, who will feature in the national squad. 

Initially, a 17 men squad was announced for the first test against Pakistan. However, after the defeat, three more cricketers have been added to strengthen the side. 

Among the three cricketers, Shakib Al Hasan and Taskin Ahmed are making a comeback after recovering from injuries, and the only new face is Mohammad Naim Sheikh which came as a shock.

Naim last played a first-class match 21 months ago on 10th February 2020. Interestingly, he has only 6 first-class games in his kitty. 

In these 6 matches, he batted in 11 innings scoring 183 runs at an average of 16.6 and his highest score was 65. With so little experience and exposure to red-ball cricket, his sudden inclusion to the national Test side certainly raises eyebrows. 

One thing that is definitely worth giving a thought to is Naim’s technique. Is it suitable for Test cricket? Well, he is a batsman who can stick on the crease for a long time. However, it still doesn’t cover up the incompetency he faces against a quality pace attack and the moving cricket ball.  

A batsman with minimal footwork and slack in technique, he is doubted to be the best fit for the opening slot in this particular format. Again, he is a very one-dimensional player who loves to play square off the wicket and the leg side, usually facing troubles in manoeuvring the ball outside the off-stump. 

Furthermore, he tends to chase the wide balls especially when the ball is new, and with the traditional field set up of test cricket, he will be a lot more vulnerable to dismissals in the slip corridor. 

Naim Sheikh might have a better temperament compared to his contemporaries, for instance, Saif Hassan. Regardless, his poor defence technique, inability to rotate the strike, and overdependence on boundaries will undoubtedly make him deadwood in red-ball cricket. 

In addition, a lot of his runs come from edges and cheeky boundaries, which can’t be facilitated in this format, considering the attacking approach opposition teams tend to go for.  

The current scenario of Bangladesh cricket suggests a despairing change in the top order, especially in Tests. However, replacing Saif Hassan with Naim Sheikh will be jumping from fire into a frying pan, which is likely to lessen only a little bit of the torture. 

Such clueless decisions, knowing the opposition has a world-class pace attack consisting of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hassan Ali, shows the incompetence of the selectors led by Minjahul Abedin Nannu.

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