Selectors prepare for life without Shakib
Faruque Ahmed, Bangladesh's chief selector, has a full plate to deal with ahead of the meeting to pick the squads for the upcoming tour of the West Indies. The limited-overs side is likely to be announced in the next few days after he submits it to the BCB, along with the players included in the Test squad.
Changing conditions in the Caribbean, Bangladesh's worrying batting form and bowling resources, and the absence of their top cricketer are among the many factors he will have to consider.
Shakib Al Hasan's six-month suspension means that for the first time Bangladesh will not select him though he is fully fit. "Shakib is a very important player but this is part of cricket," Faruque said. "Some players get injured, though Shakib has been suspended. We have played without him in the recent past. From the point of view of the chief selector, we have to add an extra player when replacing Shakib. I think we can fill his place by picking an extra batsman or bowler."
Bangladesh won eight out of 21 ODIs that Shakib missed in the last six years; four since March 2013. However, they have lost all their ODIs in 2014. Tamim Iqbal's form is a major concern, as are Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain's lean patches.
"Apart from a stray innings or two, our batting in the last few series hasn't been up to the mark," Faruque said. "We couldn't win a low-scoring match in the India series, so the batting department needs our attention. Many of our players have lost rhythm, which we also have to consider. These bilateral series are important ahead of the World Cup. We want to win, and at the same time see these series as preparation.
"I am seeing them batting against short-pitched bowling in the indoor nets, so they are training on particular skills. I hope they can turn the corner and get past their shortcomings.
Faruque did not explicitly say he is considering Tamim, but he is making arrangements with an eye on the opener's form. "Tamim is one of our best players. We hope that most of our key players return to form before the World Cup. When they go through a bad patch, we keep an eye whether they are doing the other things properly. He is working hard, trying. But it is not clear when he will return to form. We have options, so we are making a team in that way."
Thirteen players out of the preliminary squad of 25 were part of the ODI series against India in June, with only Ziaur Rahman being cut. There will be talk of Imrul Kayes, who scored a Test hundred and an ODI fifty in his only opportunities this year, while also top scoring for Bangladesh A in their largely unsuccessful tour of the West Indies in May and June. Robiul Islam and Shafiul Islam will also be considered, though Robiul only for Tests.
Rubel Hossain could be considered, though he hasn't played competitive cricket since March, while Arafat Sunny will also be discussed due to Shakib's absence. Faruque all but ruled out picking an uncapped player for this tour.
"We learn a lot about players in these A tours. We sent a combination of senior players and youngsters to West Indies this time. It will have an effect on the team selection. We will keep in mind those who performed there. I thought Mominul, Nasir, Imrul and Shuvo played well.
"We always think of adding one or two new boys. I am not saying there won't be anyone new in the team this time but we are mindful of the conditions and the challenges of playing in West Indies."
Faruque was not sure whether pace or spin would be Bangladesh's stronger suit in the Caribbean. In the second and third ODIs against India, Mashrafe Mortaza, Al-Amin Hossain and Taskin Ahmed impressed in helpful seaming conditions, but in the last 12 months spinners have taken the most wickets for Bangladesh. However, Abdur Razzak and Sohag Gazi have struggled this year.
"We have had to consider recent conditions in the West Indies before we select the team," Faruque said. "There used to be a lot of bounce in wickets there but it has changed, become a lot more varied. Maybe there is a thought of not taking too many fast bowlers there, but at the same time we must realise West Indies will play to their strength. We have to consider our strength too, whether that is spin or pace."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84