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Player rotation, trying out fringe players on Hathurusingha's agenda before ODI World Cup

Mahmudullah, who has been rested for the first two Ireland ODIs, "is still in our plans", says Bangladesh head coach

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
17-Mar-2023
Hasan Mahmud was key to Bangladesh's success against England in the T20I series  •  AFP/Getty Images

Hasan Mahmud was key to Bangladesh's success against England in the T20I series  •  AFP/Getty Images

Chandika Hathurusingha wants to expand Bangladesh's pool of players ahead of the ODI World Cup, to be played later in the year, but doesn't want to do it at the cost of the ODI series against Ireland. He also stressed that it's certainly not the end of the road for Mahmudullah, who has been rested for the first two ODIs against Ireland.
Hathurusingha, who started his latest - second - stint with Bangladesh with a 3-0 T20I series win over England last week, said that he wanted to give the fringe players - batters Yasir Ali, Towhid Hridoy and Rony Talukdar, and bowlers Nasum Ahmed and Shoriful Islam - a chance to express themselves.
"They can play with the freedom with which they play local cricket," Hathurusingha said ahead of the first ODI of the series, which is not part of the ODI Super League. "We have seen what they can do in local tournaments, which is how we picked them. Their performance and ability to bat a certain way, their records against pace and spin... we are giving them the mental confidence so that they can do it in the international level. We are looking at who has that character to do the role in the international level.
"Regardless of winning or losing, I look at different things like character, how they handle situations in the middle, who stands up under pressure. Performance can go up and down. [Jos] Buttler is the best batter in the world in white-ball cricket, [but] we really put him under pressure [in the T20Is]. We were very happy with our attitude, body language and fielding. Even if we lost both series, if I see those things, I know that going forward, we are in the right direction."
Bangladesh's next ODI series, also against Ireland, is part of the Super League, and they are also scheduled to play ODI series against Afghanistan and New Zealand, apart from the Asia Cup, before the World Cup in India in October-November.

Is Mahmudullah in the mix for the ODI World Cup?

Does Mahmudullah have a chance of featuring in those games?
He has been rested, Hathurusingha pointed out, and didn't want to be drawn into a discussion about Mahmudullah's future.
"I don't think he is past his prime," Hathurusingha said. "We are trying to expand our pool of players before the World Cup. In case something happens close to the World Cup, we want to have enough players that we have seen and can trust to do a role. We are rushed to do that as we have only 15 matches before the World Cup. We are trying to give opportunities to players we think can do the role. [Mahmudullah] Riyad is still in the mix.
"Riyad has done enough. He has a lot of experience. We know what he can bring. We want some other players to get up to the mark at the international level. Not just skill-wise. It is about seeing whether they have the character to do the (role) at this level. It doesn't mean that if that guy perform well, Mahmudullah is finished. He is still in our plans."
Hathurusingha expected the fast bowlers, who were so influential against England recently, to get some assistance in Sylhet, where the three Ireland ODIs would be played.
"It looks like a good wicket to bat on," Hathurusingha said. "There's enough for the fast bowlers and spinners here too. I always rate our spinners. They are very tactically savvy and skillful. But this time my fast bowlers have come in leaps and bounds. I am very happy with that as well."

Taskin and Mustafizur will have their workloads managed

Hasan Mahmud was particularly impressive in the T20Is, standing out with the way he handled pressure at the death. In the first game, he conceded just five runs in two overs towards the end to stifle England. He didn't take any wickets in the third game, but Hathurusingha said that his dismissal of Buttler in the second T20I was another crucial contribution.
"The way [Mahmud] handled the pressure overs in the three ODIs was very impressive," Hathurusingha said. "He opened the game for us in the second T20I by getting Buttler out. If I look at the game within the game, it allowed us to bring [Mehidy Hasan] Miraz into the game. The wicket brought all their left-handers. If Buttler was still there, it would have been a different kind of a game in the end.
"The games within the game are very important. I am looking for people to stand up and do things. They get confidence out of doing these things regularly. Team get confident about their role and trust them to do things. Fizz's [Mustafizur Rahman's] two big overs changed the momentum in the third T20I."
Hathurusingha said that like the batting group, the fast bowlers - especially Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur - would also be rotated.
"We want to manage him [Taskin], one of our strike bowlers. He is a world-class bowler. He bowled as quick as anyone in that series," Hathurusingha said. "We want to manage him and Fizz. There's a lot of cricket coming up. It will also allow us to give more game time to the other fast bowlers as well.
"We are trying to expand our bowling unit. Taijul [Islam] is our No. 1 Test bowler. He bowled really well in the ODIs against England. We know he is ready. We wanted to give Nasum a go, to see how he goes. If he also does well, we have two guys ready leading up to the World Cup."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84