Small gaps for Bangladesh to plug before World T20
The ongoing two-match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka is a chance for the Bangladesh selectors to have a final look at some players they will discuss in the next two days before they pick the 15-member squad for the World Twenty20 squad.
While more than half the side select themselves, there are at least seven players in the 30-man provisional squad who are in contention for the last four places in the side.
Abdur Razzak's place will be under some scrutiny after he was overlooked for the T20s against Sri Lanka. The selection panel, however, will be keen to go into a major tournament with a vastly experienced left-arm spinner, particularly with Razzak's end-over skills coming into the equation. Arafat Sunny's domestic form and economical spell in the first T20 would give him an outside chance, but he will get another look in the second and final game against Sri Lanka.
Shafiul Islam could also be discussed, as he has recovered from his latest injury and bowled well in the National Cricket League recently. He may also play in the upcoming ODIs against Sri Lanka. He will be competing with Al-Amin Hossain, who has bowled decently without much success in his limited international exposure, but has domestic form, particularly in the shape of a five-wicket over in a T20, in his favour.
"We have been working on the World T20 team for the last four to six months," Faruque Ahmed, the chief selector, told ESPNcricinfo after the first T20 against Sri Lanka. "One match would not make much difference in our opinion, but we wanted to give them a feel of international cricket. Arafat Sunny bowled well today, but I think he bowled short in one over. We have a few players in our mind. Shafiul is one of them, but we have to keep an eye on everyone."
The second T20 on Friday could see Sabbir Rahman play in the middle order. The young batsman has been talked about for the last three years, ever since a last-ditch innings against Afghanistan in the Asian Games final. He has scored heavily in the shorter formats, particularly in the recent Twenty20 competitions. Mithun Ali might make way for Sabbir in the second game.
"We didn't pick three debutants in the first Twenty20 in order to keep a balance in the side because we already had five players coming into the team," Faruque said. "We picked Mithun ahead of Sabbir because the former can play shots from the word go, but Sabbir needs a bit of time at No 3 or 4 before he starts to flourish. Sabbir has a strike-rate of 130."
The selection of the World T20 team will be an early test of Faruque, who was appointed chief selector in December. He had shown plenty of gumption before the 2007 World Cup, picking a raw Mushfiqur Rahim ahead of Khaled Mashud, the country's No 1 wicketkeeper at the time. It paid off, as Mushfiqur batted well and has since flourished in international cricket. Faruque would not perhaps be required to take such bold steps yet because he has a settled squad, with a core group of players who have played together for the last five years.
But even among the settled players in this team, there are one or two who need to spruce up their game quickly. Sohag Gazi's bowling form has not been up to the mark while the likes of Mashrafe Mortaza and Rubel Hossain have to weed out errors in their bowling. Mominul Haque, despite his Test form, also has to adjust quickly to the format.
"Mominul is a very talented player, and he has proved in Test cricket. It is important that we make the best use of him in all formats," Faruque said. "T20 is a format where you have to score better than a run a ball. He is a stroke-maker, no doubt. From a selection point of view, he is definitely in the forefront of our thoughts in all formats."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here