Bangladesh have batting-order jumble to organise
Such has been their fondness of the batting-order jumble, it is hard to predict whether the Bangladesh team management will consider Imrul Kayes as an opener, a No. 3 or even lower down the order when they set their XI against England. While it will be hard to tinker with the middle-order after the successful chase against Scotland last Thursday, who will open with Tamim Iqbal remains the main question.
Tamim and Anamul Haque added 47 and 0 against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, while against Scotland Soumya Sarkar and Tamim added just five runs. Anamul's shoulder injury while fielding made way for Soumya, a regular opener in domestic cricket, but he was strangled down the leg-side for 2. He is likely to continue as an opener but still Bangladesh need another opening batsman to replace Anamul for the rest of the tournament.
The Bangladesh selectors picked Imrul from the rest of the players in Bangladesh's 30-man World Cup preliminary squad. Uncapped opening batsman Litton Kumar has made more first-class runs this season than Imrul but the latter is a Test regular and has World Cup experience. In fact, he was man-of-the-match in Bangladesh's wins over England and the Netherlands in 2011.
But he lost his place in the team within six months of that tournament, and returned only last year with a Test century at No. 3. But last year he has also just averaged 15 in five ODIs and only has a 64.95 overall strike-rate. He had been playing regular domestic cricket (he arrived at the airport hours after completing a first-class match) before arriving in Adelaide on Friday. So far, he has had one net session on Saturday and will have another on Sunday. A majority of the Bangladesh players required more than four weeks training to get in tune with Australian conditions so Imrul is not going to have the best preparation for a World Cup match of such magnitude.
He remains hopeful of a game or two though, and made his case by recalling how he has done well against England and in New Zealand in the past. He is in fact Bangladesh's second-highest scorer against England, and Bangladesh's only ODI centurion in New Zealand. He hopes that the two net sessions prepares him for the matches, with coach Chandika Hathurusingha having told him to play as straight as possible at the start of the innings.
"I never expected to play in the World Cup so I am feeling great to have come here," Imrul said. "I batted in the nets today. We are going to play in a different condition here in Adelaide. I have one more net session tomorrow, and think I can adjust to the conditions here. I batted well today, and I think quick adjustment is necessary because one doesn't get such a chance every day. I have to be mentally prepared.
"I don't see it as pressure. I have always played well against England so I would like to make use of any opportunity I get to play against them again. I have done well in New Zealand too, so I hope to do well if given a chance. The coach told me that I should play with the straight bat early on, which will make it easier for me."
If Bangladesh's team management selects their next XI going by how the batsmen did in the last game, Tamim and Soumya should open with Mahmudullah earning the No. 3 spot through his half-century against Scotland, though he had only batted there for the second time in his ODI career. Mushfiqur and Shakib are a shoe-in for their favoured positions - four and five - with Sabbir Rahman and possibly Nasir Hossain to follow.
Tinkering with the line-up is encouraged as long as those scoring the runs - Mahmudullah, Shakib and Mushfiqur - are given a stable batting position. Soumya has a big chance to nail down the position of Tamim's partner, otherwise Bangladesh may have to revert back to their 2011 preference - Tamim and Imrul.