Former skipper Khaled Mahmud said on Sunday that the injury of all-rounder Sakib al Hasan made the national cricket team imbalanced, leaving them struggling in the ongoing three-match one-day international series against New Zealand.
Sakib was ruled out of the series at the eleventh hour after he hurt his left ring finger in the Bangladesh Premier League final on February 8.
In Sakib’s absence, Bangladesh could not afford to drop their lone spinner Mehedi Hasan and also had to pick Mohammad Saifuddin, a decent all-rounder who provided some depth with the bat.
With the place of skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza and Mustafizur Rahman also guaranteed in the starting line-up, it cost Rubel Hossain his place in the squad despite the right-arm pacer going to New Zealand in his top form.
While New Zealand pacers made the most of a pace-friendly condition, putting Bangladesh in trouble in both the matches, leaving them reduced to 94-6 and 93-5 respectively in Napier and Christchurch at one point, Bangladeshi pacers – Mashrafee and Mustafiz failed to create much of an impact with their average speed.
‘I think, in the absence of Sakib, it gets difficult to balance the side,’ Mahmud told reporters in Mirpur.
‘To be honest, we don’t have many all-rounders of his standard. But playing one batsman short is risky. However, I still see one bowler short. Let’s see, the management will do whatever it feels right.’
Rubel was one of the most successful bowlers for the Tigers in recent past in limited-over format picking 23 wickets in 15 matches he played for Bangladesh last year, third highest after Mustafiz (29) and Mashrafee (26).
Rubel’s strike-rate of 26.4 in ODI format was the best strike-rate among the Bangladeshi bowlers last year and during the recently-concluded Bangladesh Premier League, he took 22 wickets in 15 matches – joint second highest with Taskin Ahmed and Mashrafee to show the sign of his great form.
Although the 29-year old had been an automatic choice for the Tigers, especially in one-day format in the last couple of years, the sudden injury of ace Sakib forced the team-management to sacrifice him.
‘All their bowlers are bowling at 140 km/h. We don’t have a pacer who could bowl at that pace. We are missing Rubel [Hossain],’
‘I wish we had a fast bowler like him in those conditions. The wicket in the second half gets a bit easier to bat, becomes flat. I feel we need to work on our lengths,’ added Mahmud.
Mahmud also said that Bangladesh had nothing to lose in the series and they should concentrate on ending the series on a high note.
‘Let’s see what happens in the last ODI. As we have already lost the series, we have nothing to lose. The biggest thing is how much we can play our own best game,’ he added.
‘Our top-order failed to perform in both the matches, but it’s something that can happen. But we can take positives from the way the middle-order came back. But definitely, it’s important to come back,’ said Mahmud.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Cricket