ICC World Cup squad profile: Superstars’ war of words mar Bangladesh build-up

The Tigers are famous for spoiling the party of big teams, but can they go a step further this time?

Tamim Iqbal (left) and Shakib Al Hasan (right) (photo: National Herald archives)
Tamim Iqbal (left) and Shakib Al Hasan (right) (photo: National Herald archives)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The war of words between Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, two of the enduring stars of the Bangladesh cricket, could not have been more ill-timed. It remains to be seen if the Bangla Tigers will be missing the services of dashing Iqbal at the top of the order as he has been dropped from the final 15, but it was certainly a poor advertisement for the country’s cricket. 

It’s been an intriguing clash of egos between the two, once the best of friends, which rocked their cricket over the past few days and it’s a pity that the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) had no control over such a flare-up. While their official line was that Iqbal was dropped for a nagging back injury, a vocal Hasan told a news channel that it was the opener’s refusal to bat at No.3 in their Cup opener against Afghanistan (October 7) which has cost his place in the team. 

The 36-year-old allrounder captain, in what could be his last 50-overs showpiece, even criticised Iqbal for quitting the captaincy in the middle of a series. The discussion about tweaking the batting order must have happened at their planning stage – and such flexibility should be a given for the team’s cause – but there seems to be more than what meets the eye.  

In a video message, Iqbal called out the decision to be a ‘dirty game’ and said he was not willing to be a part of it. He felt he was being coerced into an unfavourable situation and thus decided to withdraw from consideration for the tournament. “At that point, I said that if you are thinking like this, then don’t send me because I don’t want to be part of this dirty game,” he said. 

Bangladesh, meanwhile, looked good in their opening warm-up game against Sri Lanka with the opening pair of Liton Das and Tanzid Hasan cracking half-centuries as they put up a 131-run partnership. The top order wears a fine look with experienced Mamudullah back in favour along with veteran Mushfiqur Rahim and Hasan, though there seems to be a dearth of experience in the key number three and four positions.    

Taskin Ahmed, who can work a lively pace, will be leading the pace attack with Mustafizur Rahman – the latter expected to use his expertise of the IPL to good effect in these conditions. Their forte, however, will lie in the spin attack led by the crafty Hasan, who is also capable to bowling at powerplay to slow down things. 

Much like Sri Lanka at home, Bangladesh have frequently shown they can be a dangerous side in white ball cricket. They handed Rohit Sharma a 2-1 series defeat in this format in 2022 and have raised expectations from their extremely demanding and hypersensitive fans, though a major ICC title has eluded them. In 2015 and 2019 editions, they stunned England and South Africa respectively, to spoil their campaigns.  

This time too, they will be no pushovers under familiar conditions.  

Bangladesh squad: Shakib Al Hasan (c), Litton Kumer Das, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Najmul Hossain Shanto (vc), Tawhid Hridoy, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nasum Ahmed, Shak Mahedi Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Shoriful Islam, Tanzim Hasan Sakib. 

Best performance: Quarter finals, 2015 

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines

Published: 01 Oct 2023, 11:28 AM