At the time of writing, Australia have four confirmed opponents in their group for the Super 12 of the 2021 ICC World T20: South Africa, England, West Indies and Bangladesh.
After winning the ODI series against the West Indies, the Aussies have flown to Bangladesh where they will be facing the Tigers in a five-match T20 series in the capital city, Dhaka.
Despite Bangladesh missing Tamim Iqbal (injury), Mushfiqur Rahim (not entering the bio bubble in time) and Liton Das (personal reasons) for the series, the presence of Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah make them favourites leading up to the series.
Here is an in-depth look at each member of the Bangladesh squad for the series.
Sarkar has been in career-best form since October 2019 in T20 internationals. In the past, he would throw away his starts or get bogged down very easily. Nowadays, Sarkar understands that he can catch up with his strike rate in the latter stages, which has made him become a more consistent T20 cricketer. Sarkar also bowls handy medium pace and is the best fielder in this Bangladesh squad. If he continues to fire consistently this series, Sarkar can take the game away quickly from a world-class Aussie attack. He is easily the key wicket for Bangladesh in this series.
Naim is more suited to the 50-over game, but has had a decent start to his T20 career for Bangladesh. In 12 T20I games, Naim has scored 374 runs with two half centuries to his name. However, he does struggle to rotate the strike effectively. As he will be facing Mitch Starc and Josh Hazlewood, the last thing a batsman wants is facing six balls on the trot against them. This series could define how Naim goes about his T20I career and whether the 21-year-old is Tamim Iqbal’s long-term successor in T20 cricket.
Shakib Al Hasan
The man needs no introduction. A T20 globetrotter who has made many world-class batsmen look average with his left-arm tweakers, Shakib Al Hasan has done it all. He needs five wickets to become the second men’s player to take 100 T20I wickets and 13 in the series to become the highest wicket taker in men’s T20I cricket. Alongside his bowling, Shakib will bat at three throughout the series and look to bat as long as possible throughout Bangladesh’s innings.
More often than not, the Bangladesh T20 skipper has gone under the radar. A brilliant tactician, Mahmudullah has done wonders with teams in Bangladesh domestic tournaments that hardly have big names. With no Mushfiqur around, Mahmudullah should bat at number four during the series to protect his middle order from being exposed too early. If the situation does arise, Mahmudullah will bring himself on to bowl but that is unlikely with the all-rounders available for Bangladesh this series.
An all-rounder who bowls off spin, Afif Hossain packs a punch. While Hossain has not been outright consistent as a T20 player for Bangladesh, he can be a match winner on his day in the middle order. He plays spin better than pace and will be looking to slog Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar over cow corner during the series.
I am very excited by Shamim Hossain and what he can do for Bangladesh in white-ball cricket. Before his T20 debut for Bangladesh, he was scoring at a strike rate of over 145 in domestic T20s. Having faced 28 balls in T20 internationals so far, Shamim Hossain has scored at a strike rate over 210 and will be given a long rope as a finisher for Bangladesh. The best thing about him? He does not rely on playing his shots only on one side of the wicket – he is equally as good at scoring on both sides of the wicket.
The best gloveman in Bangladesh, Nurul Hasan has found it hard to get consistent chances for Bangladesh. In a similar mould to Jimmy Peirson, Hasan does not possess power but he is a very smart batsman who is primarily a gap finder. If you thought Mushfiqur Rahim and Matthew Wade are chilly behind the stumps, then you are in for a ride with Hasan behind the stumps.
Mahedi’s T20 career has been a struggle so far, but he will enjoy the slower wickets in Dhaka. Alongside his off spinners, Hasan is an excellent fielder and can hold a bat (he has an average of 43 in first-class cricket proves so). But pressure will ramp up on Hasan if he fails to make a mark in favourable conditions for him.
Although Saifuddin struggled in the T20 series against Zimbabwe, expect him to bounce back. Having conceded 31 runs in an over to David Miller in 2017, many expected Saifuddin to not get back to his best. Despite the setbacks on and off the field, Saifuddin continues to bounce back – a testament to his attitude of not giving up. A swing bowler who can bat as well, Saifuddin will look to take wickets in the power play and put the Aussie middle order under pressure.
Alongside Shamim Hossain, Shoriful Islam was part of Bangladesh’s 2020 under-19 World Cup-winning squad and now he is starting to make a mark for the senior team. Standing at 190 centimetres, the left-arm seamer bowls an awkward length and has the game awareness to adapt his bowling style according to the surfaces. Having been part of Bangladesh’s horror tour of New Zealand earlier this year, the 20-year-old will want to make a mark against the Aussies and lead the Tigers to a series win.
‘The Fizz’ is arguably one of the most unplayable seamers on slower wickets in T20 cricket. Reports are going on that he will miss the first two T20s to injury, which means Taskin Ahmed will likely replace him in the line-up temporarily. But when he comes back, Rahman will look to add to his wicket tally with his off-cutters and yorkers.
Taijul Islam and Nasum Ahmed
They are the back-up spinners in the squad. I do not see either of them getting any games at first unless Bangladesh wrap up the series early and want to experiment for the latter half of the series.
Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed
Although I mentioned Taskin most likely playing the first two games, I highly doubt Rubel will be playing any games. In fact, I’m very surprised he is still in the Bangladesh T20 squad (28 wickets, 32.57 average, 9.45 economy) over Al-Amin Hossain (43 wickets, 16.97 average, 7.13 economy).
Mosaddek Hossain and Mohammad Mithun
Hossain and Mithun are primarily middle-order bats with Hossain an all-rounder and Mithun an option for Bangladesh with the gloves. With Bangladesh wanting to give extended chances to their young middle-order bats, I find it very difficult to see either of these two forcing their way into the line-up. Be content with serving drinks this series, boys.