Mashrafe Mortaza backs pace-heavy plan
Bangladesh have five quicks to pick from in their 16-man squad for the forthcoming tri-nation series against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe
Bangladesh will keep backing a three-man pace attack in the tri-nation series at home despite their recent poor form, according to their ODI captain Mashrafe Mortaza.
The hosts have five pace bowlers to pick from in their 16-man squad, which also contains three frontline spinners. The cold conditions in Dhaka over the last two weeks, however, suggest that seam and swing are more likely than spin. There is also the chance that dew could negate the effectiveness of Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Sunzamul Islam.
Mashrafe said the fast bowlers had to be backed because of how they had delivered since the 2015 World Cup. And with another World Cup coming up in 18 months, he said, persisting with a pace-heavy attack made more sense to him.
"We have hardly played too many games since 2015 with less than three pace bowlers," Mashrafe said. "They have helped us win games and have also been cause of some losses too. There can be a bad patch, but it is important to have faith in the pace bowlers, especially with a World Cup in England coming up."
In the current squad, Mashrafe and Mustafizur Rahman are the first choices with Rubel Hossain, Abul Hasan and Mohammad Saifuddin vying for the third seamer's slot. If the pitch and conditions demand a very pace-heavy attack, Bangladesh could play four seamers, and Shakib as the lone spinner.
The pace bowlers have to bounce back from an underwhelming tour of South Africa. Rubel returned the best figures there, having taken a seven scalps at an average of 53.14. Mashrafe, Mustafizur and Saifuddin took only five wickets in all, while Taskin Ahmed took two wickets across all formats. He was then dropped from the ODI squad.
Mashrafe, who went wicketless in the ODI series in South Africa, was the only pace bowler who bounced back well in the BPL, bagging a tally of 15 wickets.
"There is always pressure when you are playing for your country," he said. "It is a good thing, because the best performance comes out in a pressure situation. But I think many of our players have played under more intense pressure. We didn't get what we wanted from our last tour but I am hopeful that we will be able to execute better this time."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84