Tamim Iqbal’s decision to withdraw from consideration for the upcoming ICC World T20I will surely have a positive impact on those contending for Bangladesh’s opening slots, which remains among the major areas of concern for the team management before announcing the squad.
Despite being the most successful opener that Bangladesh has produced over the years, Tamim’s decision to opt out of the World Cup — which came in light of the fact that the left-hander had not played a T20I for the past 17 months — was huge given that he would have been an automatic choice based on his wealth of experience if he could recover from a knee injury ahead of the mega-event.
His extended absence from the shortest format was one of the reasons, but the way he emphasised the word ‘fair’ and said that he did not want to take the place of someone who has been playing T20Is during this period was exceptional.
Now, the onus will be on the likes of Naim Sheikh, Liton Das, and Soumya Sarkar to utilise the huge opportunity. At the same time, it will be important for these three players to engage in healthy competition among each other for a place in the Tigers opening slot.
Naim is the top-ranked Bangladesh batsman in the shortest format and the left-hander has managed to provided some assurances from one end in recent times.
The 22-year-old also showed a great deal of resilience in the home series against Australia, when the pitch made it extremely difficult for batsmen to play their shots.
Liton Das, who will be making a comeback to the side against New Zealand after missing out on the Australia series, will need to gain in confidence so the selectors may bank on the pair of Naim and Liton as first-choice openers for the World Cup.
However, both Naim and Liton missed out in the first T20I against New Zealand as they opened in chase of a small 61-run target on yet another slow and low Mirpur surface.
Despite scoring two fifties in three games in Zimbabwe, Soumya Sarkar failed in all five matches against the Aussies and it will also be important for the think-tank to provide the left-hander with confidence ahead of the mega-event.
The series against New Zealand will be the Tigers’ last international assignment ahead of the World Cup and with Tamim making way for these cricketers, it will be important for the likes of Naim, Liton and Soumya to get relief by not worrying about losing their place and make the most of the opportunity.
One should also mention that it will be harsh to judge batsmen, especially over their performances at home as the Mirpur pitch has proved to be extremely difficult. But despite the fact, someone needs to put their hands up to take the challenge.
-With The Daily Star input