Shocked, outraged, disappointed. A varied yet familiar reaction to Shakib Al-Hasan’s banning stemming from involvement in a corruption scandal.
Earlier this year, the BCCI announced that India would be hosting Bangladesh in November for three T20Is and two Test matches.
Finally Bangladesh would have a perfect chance to test themselves against one of the best white-ball teams before the T20 World Cup and gain experience of playing in Indian conditions.
However, the news of star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan being banned for two years (12 months suspended) for not reporting corrupt approaches, fans of Bangladesh cricket have been left in a state of shock. But Bangladesh have to move forward, and with only five days until the first T20I in Delhi, it will take a lot of mental strength to get through this.
With Shakib banned, Mahmudullah has been named captain of the T20 side. With the T20 World Cup less than 12 months away, Bangladesh will need strong leaders and Mahmudullah is the perfect choice. The all-rounder is an aggressive captain who will not shy away from the truth when the going gets tough. To make things more difficult for Bangladesh, they will not have the services of opener Tamim Iqbal and all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin due to personal reasons and injury respectively.
Bangladesh have named a pretty decent squad for the three-match T20 series considering it’s not full strength due to circumstances.
All-rounders Aminul Islam and Afif Hossain will need to perform with both bat and ball to ensure Shakib’s absence isn’t felt deeply. Openers Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar will enjoy the flatter and harder wickets in India compared to the slower pitches in Bangladesh, meaning they can play strokes on the up more confidently.
Should they perform well, the Bangladesh selectors could have a headache – and for good reason. These crop of youngsters will need to perform so that the senior members of the batting line-up do not feel so much responsibility to score the bulk of the runs.
The return of Al Amin Hossain and Arafat Sunny adds a bit of experience into the bowling stocks. The duo played their last T20I matches in India during the 2016 T20 World Cup, so for them, it could be a second homecoming.
Hossain is a very handy T20 bowler, having the skills to swing it away from right-handers and bowl deadly yorkers at the death. Sunny is a left-arm orthodox spinner and just like Shakib, his most effective delivery is the arm ball.
Taijul Islam has been added to the T20 squad in Shakib’s absence and will be fighting with Sunny for the specialist spinner’s role. Al Amin will be partnered with Mustafizur Rahman, Shafiul Islam and Abu Hider in the pace department.
For them to be successful, all they need to do is transition their successful BPL form from earlier this year into international cricket. Each pacer has different skills and it seems like Abu Hider will be competing with Shafiul Islam for the third pacer spot in the Bangladesh XI.
India have rested Virat Kohli with Rohit Sharma set to lead the side. All-rounder Shivam Dube and keeper Sanju Samson have been given maiden call-ups to the Indian team. With no Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Khaleel Ahmed and Deepak Chahar will get another opportunity to showcase their skills in international cricket. Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar and Washington Sundar make India’s spin attack very strong alongside wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
T20 is a funny game. While it does require a solid set of skills, it’s more about who turns up on the day. The 20-over format reduces the gap between world-class sides and up-and-coming teams. While anything is possible, India should run away with this series 3-0 or 2-1.
However, if Bangladesh can cause an upset or at the very least fight hard and take the game to the opposition fearlessly, it’ll show they’re mentally ready to play international cricket after the turmoil that has occurred in the last two weeks.
Predicted India XI: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Shivam Dube, Krunal Pandya, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Khaleel Ahmed.
Predicted Bangladesh XI: Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim (wicketkeeper), Mahmudullah (captain), Afif Hossain, Aminul Islam, Abu Hider, Arafat Sunny, Mustafizur Rahman, Al Amin Hossain.