The Bangladesh captain explains why they named a 19-member squad for the Dhaka Test against Pakistan
“We are not really experimenting by just bringing in younger players,” Mominul said of having that large a squad. “We replaced Tamim bhai who is injured. [Mohammad] Naim has come in as [a potential] back-up opener for New Zealand [considering the upcoming tour]. Rabbi [Yasir Ali] played the first Test in Shakib bhai‘s place. Riyad [Mahmudullah] bhai has retired. We have had to take new players. We don’t have a lot of performing players. When the senior players will return, we will have these younger players around in the dressing room. If others are performing in domestic cricket, they will certainly be considered in the team.”
“We don’t have enough openers. Naim is someone who has been playing international cricket regularly,” he said. “He has played T20s recently, which is why he missed a lot of first-class cricket. We wanted an opener who has been playing international cricket. An opener from domestic cricket would have a tough time adjusting in this situation. We also have to consider the New Zealand tour.”
Mominul said he was pleased to have a fit-again Shakib back in the side. The senior allrounder, who picked up a hamstring injury during the T20 World Cup match against West Indies which has forced him to miss six matches for his side since, passed a fitness test last week. And Shakib’s return means Bangladesh have the option of including five genuine bowlers as well as slot in an additional experienced batter in their top six.
“Shakib bhai makes it easy to make a team combination,” he said. “He is looking good. He has recovered from the injury. He makes life easier for any captain. He is important for team combination. His return is a positive thing for us.”
But can Bangladesh, who have won only two out of their last 13 international matches stretching back to September, eke out a win against Pakistan in Dhaka? Mominul believes if they can bat for the best part of two days they stand a chance to level the series, but would also need to start well with the ball. They were down 49 for 4 and 25 for 4 in the Chattogram Test, where they also conceded opening partnerships worth 146 and 151.
“The most important thing in the Test match is the first hour, regardless of who is batting,” he said. “If we can start well, things will be easier. Our strength is batting, so if we can bat for five or six sessions, we can certainly be in the game. We are going out there to win the Test.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84