Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo on Friday expressed his disappointment over not having ace all-rounder Sakib al Hasan with the team for the India tour and was still searching for a way to fill the gap left by the stalwart player in the Bangladesh side.
Bangladesh team is currently in India, to take part in a three-match Twenty20 and two-Test series against the neighbouring rivals, but the Tigers are there without their leading all-rounder Sakib.
The 32-year player was handed a two-year ban (one year suspended) from all forms of cricket on October 29, by the International Cricket Council for failure to report corrupt approaches and this will be the first series for Bangladesh where the player is barred from taking part.
Domingo acknowledged that the team will miss him in the crucial tour, while also hoping the turbulent time will bring out the best from the rest of the players.
‘Anybody will miss Sakib, He is a fantastic cricketer. He is the leading all-rounder in world cricket. Players look up to him. So obviously he is a big loss for us. There is no doubt about it,’ Domingo told reporters in a press-conference in Delhi.
‘It’s been a couple of testing days in Bangladesh, last couple of weeks I suppose. But something like that can galvanise a team, can get a team close together,’ he added.
Sakib was the captain of the Twenty20 side and also Bangladesh’s highest run-getter and wicket taker in the shortest format with 1,567 runs and 92 wickets from 76 appearances.
Replacing Sakib in the squad will be a difficult task, accepted Domingo, as he didn’t see any like-for-like replacement of the all-rounder in the Bangladesh squad.
‘It’s very tricky obviously because he [Sakib] goes in at number three and he often opens the bowling or bowls first change. He bowls four overs every single game. He is one of the leading batters
‘I don’t think there is anyone earmarked, who will specifically do Sakib’s job. Everyone would have to contribute and try and fill up his numbers as best as we possibly can,’ he said.
Domingo further felt that Sakib’s ban from international cricket over such unforeseen circumstances has left an emotional dent on some of his long time team-mates but was quick to point out that Sakib was suffering for his own misdoings.
‘He has been a big player for Bangladesh and he has been a very close friend with a lot of the players. So obviously it has affected some of the players. He has made a mistake and he is paying the price for it. There is not too much else we can say about it,’ Domingo said.
Other than Sakib, opener Tamim Iqbal had previously removed his name from the India tour to be with his wife during the birth of their second child.
Domingo saw the absence of such stalwarts as an opportunity for the younger players and hoped they will make the most of their chance against India.
‘They are obviously two big players to replace, we know that. They have a lot of experience. But with that comes opportunities for some of the younger players. So guys like Nayeem [Hasan], Afif [Hossain], Saikat [Mosaddek Hossain], Soumya [Sarkar] we have got some really good players who can replace those types of players,’ Domingo said.
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