Matches (16)
T20 World Cup (4)
IND v SA [W] (1)
WI Academy in IRE (1)
CE Cup (4)
T20 Blast (6)

Nurul Hasan, Bangladesh's new T20I captain, might only be a stop-gap arrangement

He is probably just keeping the seat warm for Shakib, but can also use the opportunity in Zimbabwe to make a case for himself

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Nurul Hasan pulls one behind the wicket, Dhaka, June 24, 2021

Nurul Hasan has led at the domestic level, including in 49 white-ball matches for Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club  •  BCB

Nurul Hasan is Bangladesh's new T20 captain, having taken over from Mahmudullah ahead of the T20I series against Zimbabwe starting next week. Just 33 T20Is old [to go with seven Tests and six ODIs], Nurul comes across as a left-field choice for the role. Here's a look at how he got there, albeit in what seems like a short-term experiment.
Who is Nurul Hasan?
Nurul, a 28-year-old wicketkeeper-batter, made his international debut in 2016. It has been an on-again-off-again sort of career, despite being recognised as a technically gifted wicketkeeper. He has had to wait for his turn as Mushfiqur Rahim, first, and then Litton Das have kept a hold on the spot in the various formats.
When Nurul has got a chance at the highest level, he has usually shown that he belongs there. He recently tackled the West Indies' pace attack well in the Test series, while completing two tricky chases in the ODIs. Tamim Iqbal was particularly impressed with Nurul after the West Indies show, saying, "Apart from the bowlers, I have to say [Nurul] was the leading performer. He has put up a very strong case going forward." Overall, though, his numbers with the bat are modest.
What's his pedigree as captain?
Nurul's leadership experience is mainly in white-ball cricket at the domestic level. He has led Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club in 49 white-ball matches, and occasionally, Khulna Division and South Zone in first-class cricket. He led the Chattogram Challengers in one BPL game in 2019 too. So there is a little experience on that front.
"He has captained in domestic cricket, so he has leadership qualities. He is an aggressive character who can motivate the team," Jalal Yunus, the BCB's cricket operations chairman, said on Friday, when announcing Nurul as the Bangladesh T20I captain.
But it is a stop-gap arrangement. Nurul is leading only in the three matches in Zimbabwe, for the moment. Mahmudullah is being rested, but there is no clarity on whether Mahmudullah will return to the helm for the Asia Cup in late August. Shakib Al Hasan might be in line to take over, but the BCB is not telling just yet.
What! Shakib, really?
Indeed. ESPNcricinfo understands that Nurul is only keeping the seat warm for Shakib. Mahmudullah's removal has been on the cards for a while, especially after Bangladesh's campaign in the T20 World Cup last year, where they lost all their Super 12s matches, which was preceded by a knee-bruising qualification round, which included a defeat to Scotland.
But the BCB had pointed to a lack of time after the T20 World Cup to find a new captain, which meant Mahmudullah continued for the next three series. Bangladesh won just one out of eight games in that period.
Mahmudullah's own form with the bat has also contributed to the way things have panned out. He hasn't touched the 30-run mark since October 2021, when he scored 31 not out against West Indies in Sharjah. That's ten innings with a best of 22.
Shakib has already taken charge of the Test side, following Mominul Haque's resignation before the West Indies tour last month. It proved that the BCB has no reservations about Shakib despite his ICC suspension in 2019 or his frequent run-ins with the bosses over the years.
But why not come clean, and say what the plan is?
Oh, well… But, actually, Shakib wanted a break, for personal reasons, which has complicated matters. We are hearing that if Shakib had a change of heart about touring Zimbabwe, he would have been named T20I captain. But, in his absence, the BCB discussed Nurul and Litton as the T20I captains. Litton led the side in a T20I in New Zealand last year, but Nurul's leadership qualities seem to be more attractive to the BCB at the moment.
What are the expectations from Nurul?
Not a lot, to be honest. Three T20Is aren't many games. But the BCB did mention "a different direction" when announcing Nurul as captain. Bangladesh's overall T20I cricket has been woeful of late, to put it mildly. They are behind most of the top sides in every statistical, technical and physical parameter.
The T20 World Cup last year showed where they stand in the format, and very little is expected of them in the T20 World Cup this year. But the BCB feels that if Nurul's aggression rubs off on the others, then Shakib can lead a side that's a little more confident.
But Bangladesh need their big guns to fire, don't they?
It is going to be Bangladesh's first squad in any format without any of their senior cricketers. Tamim announced his retirement from T20Is earlier this month. They have played only ten T20Is without Mahmudullah in the last 15 years. Mushfiqur too is rested for this T20I series, although no one is certain whether the BCB has given him a break or it's a sign of a long-term absence from the format.
Bangladesh haven't found an opener who can replace Tamim's T20 qualities, but the team management has to formulate a new-look middle order that can combine with the lower order effectively, now that they are without Shakib, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur.
The BCB is hoping that one of the newcomers or recalled players can step up quickly, so that they can head into the Asia Cup, the New Zealand tri-series and the World Cup with a bit of progress within the T20I side.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84