Nazmul Hassan suggests there may still be room for Mahmudullah in World Cup squad
The BCB president feels Mahmudullah could be competing with three other middle-order batters for one spot
BCB president Nazmul Hassan has weighed in on Bangladesh's World Cup squad even as he recognised that the final call would be with chief selector Minhajul Abedin. Hassan spoke about all the positions in the team, in particular the much-talked-about No. 7 spot. Bangladesh have recently tended to pick six bowlers and trust Mehidy Hasan Miraz to bat at No 7 position.
Hassan has been known over the years for having a major say in most decisions in Bangladesh cricket. So when he speaks about the World Cup squad, it becomes an important reference point even for the national selectors.
Bangladesh are likely to finalise their squad for the World Cup, which is set to be played in India in October-November 2023, when they play the Asia Cup, which is scheduled for September. ODI captain Tamim Iqbal, however, has suggested that the team is unlikely to experiment with too many new faces even during the Afghanistan ODIs in July.
Hassan feels Bangladesh have firmed up their top six - Tamim, Litton Das, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan - leaving four players - including the experienced Mahmudullah, who didn't feature in either of Bangladesh's recent series against Ireland - competing for one other possible spot in the squad for a middle-order batter.
"If we want to play with five bowlers, we will be playing an extra batter," Hassan said. "[Yasir Ali] Rabbi is currently in the squad. The likes of Afif [Hossain], Mahmudullah and Mosaddek [Hossain] aren't in the squad, but they can be picked at any point. We will need an allrounder in case we are playing five bowlers. Ultimately I don't know what Nannu [Abedin] will do, I am just saying from myself.
"There's no guarantee for anyone who will be in the squad that he will play in the eleven. Afif and Mahmudullah can make it to the team for their batting. Yasir hasn't done much after returning from injury. Afif and Mosaddek are ahead in bowling, and so is Mahmudullah. Afif is the better fielder among them [followed by] Mosaddek and then [Mahmudullah] Riyad."
Hassan also felt there could be room in the squad for a back-up opener. Mohammad Naim and Anamul Haque Bijoy - who topped this season's Dhaka Premier League run charts - could be in contention for this spot.
"They might pick a back-up opener in case of an injury," Hassan said. "They are likely to pick three pacers so any three among Hasan Mahmud, Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Ebadot Hossain and Mustafizur [Rahman] will play. They are unlikely to play anything less than five bowlers in the World Cup. They may even take four pacers in the line-up. They will also need an extra spinner."
Hassan was positive that the Asia Cup would take place as scheduled, but said he had heard no communication yet regarding whether it would be a multiple-venue tournament or if it would be held in one country. Strained relations between India and Pakistan - who are due to host the tournament - have created an impasse regarding where the tournament will be played. As things stand, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has proposed a hybrid model with the UAE hosting all of India's matches and Pakistan hosting the remaining games, but Sri Lanka and Bangladesh aren't in favour of this model.
"I haven't heard anything from the ACC [Asian Cricket Council] regarding the Asia Cup. But it will take place," Hassan said. "It is hard to say where it will be. I know that there are two options. Firstly, it can be a hybrid model, to be held in Pakistan and UAE. The second one is that it could be held in one country, most likely in Sri Lanka. They offered it to Bangladesh but we refused it as there will be rain at the time."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84