New roles for Shakib, Soumya in Windies ODIs


Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo wants Bangladesh to overcome their dependency on their spinners and is hoping to strike a balance in the upcoming three-match ODI series against West Indies at home. 

They have added six pace-bowling options - Mustafizur, Saifuddin, Taskin, Rubel, Shoriful and Hasan Mahmud - in their line-up and are looking to fine-tune their preparations for upcoming World Cups.

“It is a big series for us. World Cup qualifying points are up for grabs. We want to make sure that we can start our campaign really well. We are definitely focusing one game at a time. We want to start the series well,” Domingo said. 

“It (the combination) depends very much on conditions. We have Shakib in the side who will be bowling ten overs. In the sub-continent, you always want to have one other full-on spinner. We need to decide who that is going to be. You always want to bowl twenty overs of spin in sub-continent conditions. Maybe one or two part-timers. But you also need to make sure you have enough pacemen in case the wicket offers something to the fast bowlers.

“Particularly it being the winter and the early start. There might be a bit of movement in the first hour with a little bit of dew and fog around. We need to make sure we cover both bases.”

Russell Domingo, the head coach, believes the move not only gives Shakib some breathing space but also ensures the middle order is stocked with his experience, alongside Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah. It’s an experiment they want to make now, to see if it can be a viable option building into the 2023 World Cup. He confirmed, though, that nothing was set in stone. 

“I have had discussions with players already. They know what their roles are. We haven’t announced the final XI to the players. But they will know today what their particular position is going to be, before the media knows who will bat where.” he said.

“Obviously Shanto has been in really good form. It is great to have Shakib back. He had an unbelievable World Cup at No. 3. At the moment I am probably thinking of having the experienced players at four, five and six. It gives us good maturity and experience in the middle-order. We know playing in the sub-continent where the middle-order is so important.

“Shakib hasn’t played international cricket in a while so batting at No. 4 would give him the breathing space coming back into the side. We know he is a world-class player. This batting line-up is not set in stone. There’s a long way to go for the World Cup. We need to look at various options before we settle on a batting line-up.”

“The World Cup seem to be three years away but we know how quickly that goes. This is the first step towards the World Cup. There might be one or two changes in batting positions with some guys batting in positions they haven’t batted before. But at least six to eight months before the World Cup, that batting line-up has to be settled and established. They have to play in the position that they will play in the World Cup.”

Domingo was also quite clear that Soumya Sarkar will now done the role of a finisher, quite different to what he’s done so far. He has batted outside the top six only twice in ODIs and once in a T20I last year.

“At the moment I think the top-order is pretty established with Tamim [Iqbal] and Liton [Das] opening the batting. We want to maybe have a look at Soumya in the middle order. We are trying to find someone that can be a power hitter in the back-end of our innings, and maybe bowl a few overs.

“It is a tough role at No. 6 and No. 7. Sometimes you need ten an over and you get a good ball. Sometimes you come in at 50 for 5, and you get a good ball. It is a tough situation and people must be patient to allow him time in that role.”

The only remaining area that begged curiosity is whether Bangladesh will have a pace-heavy attack, or whether they will continue to rely on spin. Domingo said that he wants to play three seamers, particularly with the upcoming New Zealand tour in mind, where he believes Bangladesh won't play more than one spinner.

“There’s no doubt that we always wanted to play at least three seamers in our 50-over side,” he said. 

“There’s some exciting young prospects at the moment. Guys like Shoriful [Islam] and Hasan Mahmud. Rubel [Hossain] and Mustafizur [Rahman] have been bowling really well. Taskin [Ahmed] has shown improvement. There’s a whole host of guys pushing for places. We need to make sure we provide them the opportunity to play one-day cricket.