The Ireland series provided big lessons regarding the mentality required on the global stage regardless of Bangladesh’s dominance in the ODI format, and the Tigers ended things on a positive note in two tight contests. The series will boost World Cup preparations with a few matters left to be resolved, most notably the squad for the World Cup in India.
A return to runs for Tamim Iqbal was positive despite the captain not finding his flow in that third ODI during a 69-run knock. Youngsters have come through in the shape of Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy and Hasan Mahmud. Shanto especially has gone through every possible step that Bangladesh cricket had to offer to be where he is, and it is a credit to the BCB and their show of faith despite criticism.
Belief in the process must be showcased throughout if the Tigers are to go into the World Cup with a settled group of players.
That is where the outside noise has been having an effect. Talks of Mahmudullah Riyad at the World Cup are growing, but if the process is to be maintained, Riyad should have been playing the recent series that he was ‘rested’ for.
If there was faith lacking in Mahmudullah before the last T20 World Cup, by what criteria can he make the side this time? His performances had seen him out of the side, and the experience being talked about may not be the end all and be all.
After all, Bangladesh had suffered the bitter experience of experienced stars not leading through performances in the 2019 ODI World Cup. Experience not backed up by performances may be disastrous once again. More importantly, the noise from outside will not help the players who are looking to carve out a place through performances.
“I can’t say this is the World Cup team. There will be one or two spots where we are thinking about who suits us best. Afif [Hossain] is there, Yasir [Ali] too, who was extremely unlucky not to get a game here, and Riyad bhai is there too,” skipper Tamim Iqbal had said after the second ODI on Sunday.
Bangladesh will feature in a series against Afghanistan, the Asia Cup and a series against New Zealand before the World Cup to test the bench strength. “I have an open mind, and we will go for whoever suits our team best,” Tamim added.
The team management can resolve such issues discretely without hampering the progress of younger performers. The number seven spot is one key area where change can come.
Mehedi Hasan Miraz at seven is likely to be key if the Tigers are to play at least three pacers. If aggression is the means to success, that aggression must be shown through attacking team selection. Thus, being one batter short may not be a negative but a requirement.
The upcoming series will see the focus on that batting order and the responsibility of the top order. Mushfiqur Rahim has already given Bangladesh more options by playing the number six position so well. The task now will be to settle issues in the available time. Will Riyad be playing in the next series? What will his inclusion signal to the youngsters? Only time will tell, but it will be a big cue around the team-building process.