World Twenty20 spots up for grabs - Pybus
Following Raqibul Hasan's 61-ball 140 for Bangladesh A in the last of the three Twenty20 practise games, Bangladesh coach Richard Pybus has said there are spots to be won in the national squad for September's World Twenty20.
The match in Mirpur, at a ground with short boundaries, was an ordeal for bowlers. Bangladesh A chased a 244-run target with five balls to spare, Raqibul smashing eleven sixes and fourteen boundaries in an out-of-character batting performance. This knock would have helped Raqibul - who last played for Bangladesh in 2011 - regain some lost ground, but he should not get too excited; Pybus's comments about "open spots" could also have alluded to the bowling unit or even one of the batting spots in the middle-order, as both have shown a lack of Twenty20 skills.
"There was good stuff that came out of [the tri-series] Zimbabwe. [But] I still have some spots that are open," Pybus said. "It's important for me, as a head coach, to see what depth we [have] got in the system. I have been waiting for guys to put their hand up under pressure and show what they can do.
"Our bowling was obviously not as good as it should have been today. I want as much competition for the spots in senior side as possible. That's what going to make the team stronger in future, three-four guys must be waiting for the same spot."
The series was a prelude to Bangladesh's trip to Europe, where they will play five Twenty20s in the next two weeks, including a three-match Twenty20 series against Ireland, and a game each against Scotland and the Netherlands at the Hague.
Captain Mushfiqur Rahim agreed with Pybus, about places in the squad being up for grabs. "Coach isn't too far off the mark, because we only have four or five players who are guaranteed in the Twenty20 team. If we can raise our game at an individual level, it will help the team," he said. "We batted well today, but the bowling didn't go as planned."
Pybus said Bangladesh needed to play more Twenty20s to improve in the format. "To learn a format, as a team, you have to play [it] a lot. Just like the domestic sides playing competitions year after year. We need to play as much Twenty20s as possible and once that is sorted out, guys need to decide their [roles].
"Then they will learn to play in combination and according to the right game plan in different environments. The thing that I was very pleased about [in] Zimbabwe was that we got out from the subcontinent and went to the southern hemisphere, where we got some bouncy wickets. We adjusted very well and played the conditions very well."
Mushfiqur and Pybus were wary of their European hosts, especially after losing to both Ireland and Netherlands in ODIs in 2010, and to Ireland in the 2009 World Twenty20. "We do have an idea about their cricket. There aren't any big or small teams in Twenty20s; the [team] which does well on the day usually wins," Mushfiqur said.
He was, however, confident of positive performances from his side. "While we don't have a good record playing against Ireland abroad, we are a stronger side now, since we have played together for quite a number of years. Our target will be to win the series, stay balanced and consistent ahead of the [Twenty20] World Cup, and stay confident."
Bangladesh will leave for Europe on July 11 on what is their second tour in preparation for the World Twenty20, following last's months tri-series featuring Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka