Bangladesh face choice between Imrul, extra spinner
The debate over picking an extra spinner or a batsman continues for Bangladesh after Mashrafe Mortaza suggested the team was thinking of including a spinner against England in Adelaide, before adding that Imrul Kayes could also play.
Imrul arrived in Adelaide three days before the match as Anamul Haque's replacement and two net sessions may not quite be the best preparation for a crunch match. But Mashrafe has regularly maintained his preference for an extra spinner, and since Bangladesh have conceded two consecutive 300-plus totals, left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny looks like the best option among the remaining specialist bowlers. On the eve of the England match, Mashrafe also reiterated a point he made after their win over Afghanistan: Bangladesh will not consider a win as the only reason to stick to the same line-up.
"There is a chance [to play another specialist spinner] like there was in the previous game," Mashrafe said. "We put together a team considering the conditions, the batsmen's confidence and the team combination. I have felt the need for an extra spinner in the field. But sometimes conditions don't suit it, or the combinations don't allow an extra spinner. We will try to select our best team, one that won't be easy for England.
"I had said in an earlier press conference that continuing with a winning combination in these conditions is not a suitable concept for us. It is not possible for us to balance a team on these wickets. We have to make a team which the opposition has a tough time dealing with.
"(Imrul Kayes) just arrived yesterday but batted in the nets. Of course he could play. We are one opener short due to injury. I would hope that he plays confidently. This is a good opportunity for him. He wasn't in the World Cup team and possibly didn't even think of playing this time. But now he has a chance, so he can show that he has the ability to do well."
If Imrul is picked he would either open with Tamim Iqbal or bat at No 3, which would mean Bangladesh will continue with eight batsmen as they have done in the last three games. Leaving Soumya Sarkar out may not be feasible as he offers a medium-pace option and is more than a safe fielder, apart from also being an opener. However, Sarkar has not yet had a convincing performance.
Mashrafe said the batsmen had gained confidence after their win against Scotland, their highest ODI chase, but admitted that small mistakes and the drop in fielding standards had affected the confidence of the bowlers.
"From the bowling point of view, we have made small mistakes. Maybe it is a confidence issue. We dropped a few catches against Sri Lanka so had there been the odd wicket for the bowlers, they would have taken the confidence forward. If we can return to our bowling rhythm, this will be a good game.
"It will be a flat wicket. There will be plenty of runs here. I feel we can make runs here. We have chased 319 against Scotland so if we have to do it against England, it might be a little harder. Still I feel 270-280 will be a good score. All our batsmen are confident - Shakib, Mushfiqur, Tamim."
The Bangladesh captain said he can relate to England's situation, where they need to beat two lower-ranked teams to have a chance of making it to the last eight. He also said that England would be raring to avoid an early elimination, but stressed that his team is prepared and confident of making it into the quarterfinals.
"It is only natural for a team to get out of their bad patch and, if England are feeling that way, they would also want to get through it," he said. "When we played against Afghanistan, we were under a lot of pressure. It can be quite confusing if they consider themselves under pressure against a team ranked below them. We can do very well if we take the early chances.
"The equation [for us] - beat Afghanistan and Scotland and one of the big teams - remains as it was before the tournament started. It will depend on how we play tomorrow. The real challenge ahead of us is to get out of the group stage. We are all quite confident. A bit of pressure is normal, because about 160 million people back home are waiting on us to give them joy."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84