Sports, Cricket

Selection woes continue for Bangladesh's WC squad

Published : 13 May 2024 10:16 PM

There's a familiar feeling of disarray surrounding Bangladesh's World Cup squad selection, echoing the dramatic late announcements for the ODI World Cup in India. The "red and greens'" team management are yet to announce the squad, while 17 other nations have already finalised theirs for the tournament starting on June 2nd. Bangladesh, Pakistan and Netherlands are the only stragglers.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has submitted a provisional list of 15 players to the ICC, but the selection panel only convened on May 11th with head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe and captain Nazmul Hossain Shanta at the BCB offices. This meeting was supposed to finalise the squad, which also needs approval from BCB president Nazmul Hasan Papon.

Rumours swirled that chief selector Gazi Ashraf Hossain Lipu's list, submitted after the Zimbabwe series, would be announced with some tweaks. It seems the BCB is struggling to find the perfect puzzle pieces.

While an official announcement hasn't been made, a likely squad picture is emerging. All 15 players are expected to be selected from those who featured in the recent home series against Zimbabwe.

There are whispers that the selectors are prioritising a balanced attack, with a focus on spin bowling. The memory of Bangladesh's struggles with five pacers in the recent ODI World Cup appears to be swaying them towards a four-pronged spin attack, given the demand for all-rounders.

Soumya Sarkar's all-round abilities are reportedly seen as a potential fifth bowling option, offering additional pace bowling depth. With experienced opener Liton Das out of form, Soumya and Tanjid Hasan Tamim are the frontrunners to open the batting.

The practice matches against Zimbabwe have concluded, and the team management appears unconcerned about batting depth. Leg-spinner Rishad Hossain and off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz are both handy batsmen, reducing the need for a specialist reserve batter. This allows the selection panel, led by Lipu, to consider a squad with eight specialist batsmen, including the promising Zaker Ali Onik. Mehidy, Mohammad Saifuddin and Rishad are all seen as capable lower-order contributors with the bat.

Shakib Al Hasan remains a key figure in the spin department, with Mehidy, Rishad and Tanveer Islam also in contention. Group stage opponents and conditions are likely to be the deciding factors in the final number of spinners selected.

Head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe is reportedly keen on taking two additional players to the USA as net bowlers, subject to approval from the BCB president.

The World Cup kicks off with a match between the hosts, the USA, and Canada on June 2nd. Bangladesh's first taste of World Cup action arrives on June 8th, when they face Sri Lanka. Their group stage continues with a match against South Africa, followed by encounters with Netherlands and Nepal.

Bangladesh will depart for the United States on May 15th, several days before the tournament begins. Three warm-up T20 matches are scheduled for the 21st, 23rd and 25th of May. Official practice matches against India and the Netherlands are also on the agenda.