The Financial Express

New look T20 squad of the Tigers: Are the changes well-thought?

| Updated: November 19, 2021 19:06:57

Photo: ESPNcricinfo Photo: ESPNcricinfo

After the nightmare run at the T20 World Cup, the team underwent a series of major changes for the Pakistan series starting in less than 24 hours. 

Those changes saw off-form players like Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar and injured players like Mohammad Saifuddin and ace allrounder Shakib Al Hasan make way for players like Saif Hassan, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Yasir Ali Chowdhury and Akbar Ali. 

Mushfiqur Rahim, on the other hand, was left out of the team despite being available for selection as the selectors claim this to be a rest.

Although changes were expected after the shocking performance in the World Cup, the inclusion of certain players did not fail to raise eyebrows.

The selectors have often spoken highly of Saif Hassan on how they are solely looking to develop him as a Test opener for the time being, however, all of a sudden, he will be finding himself in T20I cricket (potential debut), a format he has just played 28 matches batting in 25 innings at a strike rate of 115.59. 

Saif has been playing the National Cricket League (First class cricket) where his stats do look better averaging 40.73 in 79 innings with 6 centuries to his name. However, he will have to face world-class bowlers in the likes of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Imad Wasim, Haris Rauf, and Shadab Khan now. 

His selection in this format thus raises a lot of questions regarding on what basis does the selectors end up selecting the players when it comes to a particular format.

Ever since the appointment of Russell Domingo as the head coach of Bangladesh, the team management has decided to stick stubbornly to a bizarre left-right combination in the batting order that has not always brought successes as desired. 

Hence, the inclusion of Saif Hassan in the squad, who is a right-hander, is in contention to open the innings with left-handed Naim Sheikh might be the only explanation.

When the selectors announced the squad for the Pakistan series, the biggest surprise came when the name of Akbar Ali, the U19 World Cup-winning captain, was declared ahead of Parvez Hossain Emon who was being prepared for training sessions for the series. 

Akbar Ali, who has hardly played enough cricket off late, was not even a part of the training camp ahead of the series. 

The wicketkeeper batter too was playing the NCL which will mean he will have to shift his focus from his usual cricket-playing schedules in the domestics as he is unlikely to get any matches to play if regular wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan Sohan is fit. Akbar just like Saif has not played much T20 cricket with just 29 matches under his belt.

Players like Nazmul Hossain Shanto and Yasir Ali, on the other hand, have played quite a few T20 games, 78 and 54 matches respectively, with Shanto playing 3 T20Is for Bangladesh but consistency has always been an issue.

As a result, the question remains how effective these changes will be against a side in top form that made it into the semi-finals of the World Cup. 

Players being fast-tracked into the national side with just a handful of domestic match experience is nothing new in Bangladesh cricket that has seen many promising careers fade away with time.

Only time will tell if the risks taken by the selectors pay off or not. The dangers of writing these new players off with a few below-average performances being on the cards might affect their careers in the long run.  

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