National selector Habibul Bashar is confident that the atmosphere in the Bangladesh camp will be unaffected by the off-field saga going on between the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and skipper Shakib Al Hasan. Bangladesh is in the final leg of preparations ahead of the tour of India in November.
The Bangladesh team is all set to for the first part of their tour — the three-match T20I series — on Sunday, November 3 — their last full tour of India in almost two decades. After the player strike finally being resolved, the players can ill afford to let the drama between their skipper and their board distract them from the preparations.
“The problem between Shakib and the BCB is over a contract clause. It’s not related to cricket. So the team (atmosphere) will not be affected,” Bashar told Indian Express.
“The strike didn’t last long. The matter was resolved in two days. We didn’t have any match or practice sessions during that period. The BCB handled it professionally. Sometimes, such individual issues crop up. I hope it will not affect our preparations. But we will miss Tamim Iqbal, as he is not available (the opener has pulled out on personal grounds). It’s a big setback for us because he has been our best batsman (in Tests) for long,” he said.
The BCB is yet to announce the final squad for the two Test matches that follow the T20Is, and while their struggles in the fast-bowling department are well-known, Bashar, a former skipper himself, has called on their batsman to step up and score big runs against India.
“Yes, fast-bowling is one area where we are struggling. We don’t have flat-out fast bowlers. But I’m hopeful that Taskin (Ahmed) will be fit and available for the Tests. We have also brought back Al-Amin (Hossain),” Bashar said.
“In Test cricket, not every batsman will score big runs in a match. He who gets into the groove must play a big innings. If we want to do well against India, we have to convert the 60s, 70s and 80s into big hundreds,” he continued.
Although neighbours by geography, the two teams could not be further apart when it comes to their recent form in red-ball cricket. India is flying high and mighty at the top of the ICC Test Championship table with 240 points from five successive wins. Bangladesh, on the other hand, suffered a humiliating loss at home to Afghanistan — although that match was not part of the Test Championship.
“India is in tremendous form. They are the strongest opposition in Test cricket at this moment. So, opening our World Test Championship campaign against India is a huge challenge. We know that. It’s a very tough test. At the same time, it’s an opportunity for us as well. If we perform well, Bangladesh cricket will make a rapid forward movement. But once again, it won’t be easy. India probably has the best bowling attack in the world at this moment. Pace, spin – they have an all-round bowling attack. They probably also have the best top-five, batting-wise. So we have to play out of our skins,” Bashar added