Batting changes not yet bearing fruit | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 27, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:05 AM, January 27, 2021

Batting changes not yet bearing fruit

The buzzword in the Bangladesh camp before returning to international cricket after over 10 months with the ODI series against the West Indies was long-term planning keeping the 2023 ICC World Cup in mind.

The team management did try some tactical changes such as promoting young left-hander Nazmul Hossain Shanto to number three in place of Shakib Al Hasan, who had made the position his own during the 2019 ICC World Cup.

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Shakib scored 606 runs, including five fifties and two centuries, in the flagship event but the champion all-rounder was out of cricket for a year due to the ban handed by the ICC for not reporting corrupt approaches from a bookie.

Nazmul's promotion was also to provide exposure to the youngster before the tough New Zealand tour in March, especially since there was talk that Shakib may miss the tour to stay with his family for the birth of his third child.

But things did not work out for Nazmul in his new role as the 22-year-old could only muster scores of 1, 17, and 20 in the three ODIs against the West Indies. More importantly, there was added pressure on the youngster to fill the huge shoes of Shakib when, ideally, a youngster should be given the license to express himself.

"I think looking into his batting he was still unsure about his approach," respected local  coach Nazmul Abedin Fahim told The Daily Star. "No doubt he is a bright prospect for Bangladesh but it's important for him to take some time especially when you are coming in at number three. I think as Shakib had already delivered at number three it's important for him to play where he feels comfortable.

"For Shanto, there was also the added pressure of rebuilding the innings and at the same time people were watching him and expecting him to deliver and it is never easy for anyone to handle such pressure."

While many would agree with the tactical change of Nazmul coming in at number three, it came as surprise to see Soumya Sarkar -- primarily a top-order batsman throughout his career -- demoted to number seven with a new role to score some quick runs late in the innings.

Soumya however did not get the opportunity to bat in the first two ODIs, finally getting a shot at number seven for the second time in his career in the third and final ODI against West Indies.

The left-hander scored seven runs off eight balls, mainly handing over strike to Mahmudullah Riyad who was well set at that time. But for someone like Soumya, with a batting technique and style suited to the top order, it does not seem any way near to a long-term plan. Instead, it appears to be more of a stop-gap solution to bring in a top order batsman at number seven.

"Soumya is a good batsman but not for number seven and if he had to play, he should play at the top. Even if he plays well for a few games at number seven there is a huge risk for him since he will sacrifice his original batting position. I would rather want to see Afif Hossain in that position and I think his style of play would suit the team in that position," said Nazmul.

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