Rafiqul Alam, the Bangladesh chief selector, has defended the team selection for the ICC World Twenty20 where the side crashed out in the group stages. Alam's decision to pick batsman Raqibul Hasan was reportedly questioned before the team set out for England but Alam rushed to Raqibul's defence, saying he had the ability to stabilise the innings if the top order failed.
A rusty Bangladesh, returning from an international lay-off of nearly five months, lost both their group stage matches, including one to Ireland. Their only two wins on tour came during the warm-ups, against minnows Scotland and Netherlands. Raqibul managed only 29 runs in the two official games.
"Raqibul has been our best batsman internationally and he is a technically sound player," Alam told the Daily Star. "When selecting the team we had a choice between him, Mehrab Hossain jnr. and Ziaur Rahman. Zia was quite ordinary in this year's Premier League Twenty20 and 50-over version...
"It boiled down to Mehrab and Raqibul and the former's poor fielding and unhealthy strike-rate played against him. Also our top order is not very strong so we had players like Raqibul and Mushfiqur [Rahim] who can at least take the team to a respectable total if the top four batters fail."
Alam conceded that the team performed poorly and deserved the criticism it received. "Our performance was disappointing to say the least," he said. "We failed miserably in England this month so just as we are showered with praise and appreciation whenever we do well, the same also applies when we do badly."
Bangladesh's next assignment is a short tour of West Indies beginning next month, which includes two Tests, three ODIs and a Twenty20. The squad will be announced later in the month and the 17 contracted players will train at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur from June 15.
The captain, Mohammad Ashraful, will join the team in training despite having an irritation in his left eye. He reportedly picked it up while in South Africa for the IPL and doctors there recommended surgery. But doctors in England advised against it and suggested medication instead. Allrounder Shakib Al Hasan, who stayed back in England because of a groin injury, will also begin training with the others.