Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) announced its 15-member contingent for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on Tuesday and barring the selection of uncapped pacer Abu Jayed, there were hardly any surprises as all the usual suspects made the cut.
The squad primarily revolves around its "fab-five" — Mashrafe Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah — but along with them, plenty of utility cricketers have been preferred by the selectors to add more depth to this unit.
There is nice blend of youth and experience in this Bangladeshi squad. On one hand, there are the likes of Shakib, Morataza, Mushfiqur and Tamim who have been around at the highest level for more than decade now and will be featuring in their fourth 50-over World Cup. On the other hand, youngsters like Liton Das, Mehidy Hasan, Mohammad Mithun, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mosaddek Hossain and debutant Jayed will be having their first taste of this pinnacle event of the cricketing world.
Jayed, who was initially considered as more of a red-ball specialist, has been taken on board ahead of the more experienced option in Taskin Ahmed. The only reason behind this is his ability to swing the new ball. Jayed was in New Zealand recently with the Bangladesh Test side and he was consistently moving the ball around in those conditions and bowled quite a few decent spells. Those efforts impressed the team management and as a result, he now is the most likely option for Bangladesh to take the new ball from one end in the United Kingdom.
However, when it comes to the bowling department, it is certainly not going to be their strength in this World Cup. Unlike Asian conditions, their spinners won't be getting much purchase out of the flat decks in England. And there simply isn't enough pace around in the fast bowling department. Rubel Hossain is their fastest bowler, who can hit the deck hard and push the batsmen on the back-foot. But others like skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, Jayed and all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin are medium pacers, and will find it difficult to contain the opposition batting when their are trying to up the ante.
Hence, a lot will depend on how premier left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman bowls in this competition. Due to a series of injuries, he has't been at his best in the recent past. However, with so many of variations in his armoury, Mustafizur is still Bangladesh's go-to option in the death overs. So, his fitness and form will have a crucial implication on Bangladesh's fortunes in this World Cup.
Nevertheless, if it is a dry English summer like last year and pitches start offering a little bit of turn, Bangladesh, with their barrage of slow-bowling options, will certainly be a dangerous side to face. Remember, there are at least five quality spin options in this squad although Mahmudullah, in all likelihood, won't be able to bowl in this tour due to a concern over his shoulder, the primary reason behind Mosaddek Hossain's selection in the squad.
"We have some injury worries over Mahmudullah. Most probably he will not be able to bowl. So we needed someone down the order who could also bowl few overs, this is why we opted for Mosaddek,’ said the chief selector Minhajul Abedin while announcing the team.
Mosaddek's last outing with the national team was in the Asia Cup in September 2018 in the UAE. A handy middle-order batsman who can bowl some decent off-spin, Mosaddek took a three-for in a match-winning effort against New Zealand at Cardiff during Champions Trophy 2017, the last time Bangladesh were in the UK.
Now, let's shift our focus to Bangladesh's batting strengths.
This particular squad has some serious batting depth. Amongst this group of 15, there are as many as 12 players who can contribute with the bat. Perhaps, the selectors, as well as the their think-tank, wanted to subsidise the fragility in the bowling department by injecting extra batting options into the mix. And these versatile all-round options will help the team management in forming different combinations according to the conditions.
The bulk of the responsibilities primarily are expected to be looked after by their senior pros but youngsters like Das, Sabbir Rahman, Mithun, Mosaddek and Soumya Sarkar will be an important part of their gameplan. Also, the presence of all-rounders like Saifuddin and Mehidy down the order will provide this line-up a lot batting depth.
Taking this factor into account, the Tigers should consider batting second more often than not in the World Cup.
The team will be leaving for Ireland in the first week of May where they will be featuring in a tri-series involving the hosts and Windies. Uncapped spinner Nayeem Hasan and batsman Yasir Ali will also be a part of the squad for the tri-series.
From there on, Bangladesh will travel to the other side of the Irish sea and play couple of warm-up matches against Pakistan and India before taking on South Africa in their first World Cup game at the Oval on 2 June.
Squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Shakib Al Hasan (vc), Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah, Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das, Sabbir Rahman, Mehidy Hasan, Mohammad Mithun, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mosaddek Hossain, Abu Jayed.
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Babar's side stormed through the Super-12 phase of the Dubai tournament with five straight victories before a shock five-wicket loss to eventual winners Australia in the semi-final.
All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was also included in the squad but will have his fitness assessed following a hamstrong injury before being considered for the first Test.