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Great win, but team selection remains an issue

  • Published at 12:11 pm August 31st, 2017
  • Last updated at 12:43 pm August 31st, 2017
Great win, but team selection remains an issue
Now that I’ve had time to digest the performance of the Tigers from the first Test match, it’s time to unleash the cynic in me. Obviously, everyone will be showering Shakib and Tamim with all the plaudits for match-winning performances in their 50th Test, and they deserve every bit of it for putting in a world class effort. But let’s not forget all the hullabaloo regarding the selection leading into the first Test against the Aussies. There are issues that need to be addressed. Mominul Haque has an average of over 46 in 22 Tests and for some reason he is not in the playing 11. He made the squad because of Mosaddek Hossain Saikat’s eye infection and eventual omission from the 14-man squad. In his place, we have Imrul Kayes, a player who has been the regular opener along with Tamim Iqbal and, in their partnership, they have scored over 2000 runs at an average of 48. Now let’s talk about Soumya Sarkar  Many have opined that Soumya Sarkar doesn’t belong in the Test team due to his technical shortcomings. But in his last 10 innings these are his scores: 15,8,10,61,53,71,42,15,36, and 86. Four 50s in the last 10 innings means that coach Chandika Hathurusingha will still include him in the side. Speaking of the coach, the talk among the sports journalists is that he is calling the shots as far as team selection goes. The board president and appointed selectors, along with the team captain, barely have any hand in selection. Hathurusingha has a preference for Soumya, which is why he is in the starting 11 and has taken the spot from Imrul Kayes. Now Imrul Kayes does not prefer to bat at number three as he has opened for the bulk of his international career. He has also indicated that batting at this position will be a challenge for him. He’s not among the coaches favoured players but gutsy opening performances of 78 against England and a 36 against New Zealand has meant he needs to be shoehorned into the side.
It’s not like we don’t have the players that can improve the side, so it’s time to make those changes in the second Test and ensure another positive result
What about Mominul Haque? So, why is Mominul not in the team? Chances are, we will not see him in the second Test either as the coach might persist with the winning combination. There are not enough options honestly for the number three position. At least, none as statistically accomplished as Mominul Haque. Once touted as the Bangladeshi Bradman, his form has dipped under coach Hathurusingha’s tenure. If Mominul’s form has dipped, isn’t it supposed to be the job of the coach to help mend such issues? It’s clear that Mominul should be in the side on stats alone, and either one of Soumya and Imrul will have to make way if that is to happen. It could be Imrul who faces the gauntlet as the coach, ironically, is a firm believer of stats, and uses that to make his selections if there is a change. Is Sabbir Rahman misplaced? We must also look at what position best suits Sabbir Rahman in Tests. There are plans to make him the long-term number three player in ODI’s and, in the 1st innings, we saw him come in at number four and get out for a golden duck. He looked much more comfortable in the second innings and perhaps should have scored more runs if he had used his review(s) properly. Perhaps, he should be batting at number six and not number four on bowler-friendly surfaces. The pacers Shafiul Islam and Mustafizur Rahman have managed to take zero wickets in the entire Test and Shafiul didn’t even bowl in the second innings. Mustafizur was barely given a proper spell. He didn’t settle in, nor was he given the chance to do so. Support ‘the Fizz’ If we are to rely on “the Fizz” to lead our pace bowling unit for years to come, we need to ensure he is given enough opportunities and the right amount of overs under his belt. He needs to be given a proper role with the ball and his set of skills should make him a handful, even in spinner friendly pitches. There was an instance in the fourth innings where he bowled just one over and was taken off the attack the next. This does nothing to help a bowler’s confidence, especially when it’s a fast bowler who is expected to dominate batsmen. We just need to look at Kagiso Rabada and see how he’s been managed. Either we play two pacers and use them properly or we add in another specialist batsman in place of one of the pacers. And, in this, Liton Das can be a choice. He also has the better wicket-keeping abilities so Mushfiqur can focus more on his batting if he chooses to do so. Even though it is understood he’s reluctant to give up the gloves. The inclusion of Nasir in the 11 gave the team an extra spin bowling option along with some experience in the lower middle order. Given our fragile tail, the inclusion of Liton in place of one of the pace bowlers makes all the more sense. Overall, it is clear that there is room for improvement and a better team could be selected and much better managed. Some of the coach’s selection and tactics have not worked out. It’s not like we don’t have the players that can improve the side, so it’s time to make those changes in the second Test and ensure another positive result. Shahnoor Rabbani is a radio show host and cricket commentator at Radio Shadhin 92.4 FM.
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