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Selectors defy call for legspinner

Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha would have preferred having a legspinner in his World Cup squad but his suggestion to pick Jubair Hossain was not taken into consideration as the selectors went for an all left-arm spin attack.

He was present in the last-minute discussions with the three selectors on last Sunday, which delayed the announcement by two hours. Later BCB president Nazmul Hassan said that the discussion was about two bowling spots and one of them was the legspinner.

Jubair was a net bowler when the selectors and coaches recognised his talent and put him in the preliminary squad for the West Indies tour. Soon, he made his first-class debut against Zimbabwe A, after which he made his Test and ODI debut against Zimbabwe. But he is a virtual unknown in domestic cricket, and played only a single game for Abahani in the Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League.

Arafat Sunny and Taijul Islam are the two left-arm spinners picked ahead of Jubair. Arafat has taken 16 wickets in 8 ODIs including two successive four-wicket hauls against Zimbabwe, while Taijul replaced him in the same series and took a hat-trick on his ODI debut. Jubair took 11 wickets in the three Tests and four wickets in two ODIs.

Chief selector Faruque Ahmed had said at the press conference in which the squad was announced that they didn't want to risk Jubair's development as a legspinner. Hathurusingha however said that legspinners are sought after in Australian conditions, but he would have to balance the team with the resources made available to him.

"I would love to have Jubair in the team," Hathuruinsgha said. "Legspinners in Australia are very effective. In my experience in the last four years in Australia, every state team tries to get a legspinner in the team. They are the wicket-takers. It's true that I was asking for him and he was in our plans as an attacking option to get wickets, but that's where it is. He is not in but we will try to do what we can with the players we have.

"As I said, the legspinner could have given us a good attacking option. And since Shakib is there, having two left-armers it's very unlikely to play all three in one team. It's a tough decision. The two left-armers selected are very good players but I would have loved to have a different option."

But Hathurusingha remained unrevealing when asked if he would prefer to have a vote in selection, rather than just give suggestions. Currently, the Bangladesh selectors pick the squad while the team management, which includes the coach and captain, pick the eleven. The two groups are expected to consult each other.

"As a coach you have the plans with the other coaches, senior players, and captains. Most of the cases the selectors communicate with the coaching staff and have a discussion. In that sense if you have a say in selection it would be helpful, but then again it's the communication that you need," he said.

The other talked-about pick was Soumya Sarkar's. Hathurusingha was said to be a fan of the young batting allrounder, and is looking to use him primarily as a batsman. "Soumya has been in the runs and the report that I am getting is that he can bat from one to seven in the batting order.

"He is a decent seaming option so we are definitely looking at his batting first and then if he can contribute with the ball that is a bonus. We are not expecting him to bowl ten overs unless he has a good day, we are having him as a batting option who can bowl," he said.

Hathurusingha was not overly concerned about the injuries to Tamim Iqbal (knee) and Mushfiqur Rahim (shoulder), but wanted to ensure the pace bowlers to remain healthy for the team to go forward in the World Cup.

"The fast bowlers we have all bring different attributes to the team. Some have swing and some have pace. I hope they will do well. I am happy with the mix that we have.

"It is all about staying fit because it is a long tournament. The conditions in Australia are hard. They have to put in a lot more effort. Keeping them healthy and fit is the key for us."