The Asia Cup is nearing the end of the build-up stage and on the verge of getting down to business with the tournament opener between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka slated for Saturday, but there was a bit of breathing space on Thursday as it was the first day of the Arabic New Year, and hence a public holiday in the UAE.
But there were some among the Bangladesh camp who could not afford the luxury of a day off. There had been a few injury concerns, all relating to the fingers of top order batsmen – Shakib Al Hasan has been nursing an injury to his left little finger since January, opener Tamim Iqbal has a slightly swollen right ring finger and up and coming youngster Nazmul Hossain Shanto, suffered a dislocated right index finger during practice in the lead-up to the team's departure for the UAE on September 9.
So, while the rest of the team relaxed in the cool shade of their hotel, the left-handed trio – Tamim was further hampered by his delayed arrival in the early hours of September 12 because of visa issues – went to the Dubai International Cricket Stadium to put their fingers to the test.
“They went to practice today – Shanto has a slight injury, Tamim and Shakib too,” said team manager Khaled Mahmud, whose arrival was also delayed because of visa complications. “I think they are keen to play – they want to do well. I don’t think injuries will have a big effect on us. InshAllah we can play with our full squad.”
The talismanic Shakib's injury is of particular concern for the team management as the top-ranked ODI all-rounder had recently said that he found it difficult to bat with his long-standing finger problem.
“I talked to Shakib in the morning. He said there is some pain, it’s swollen and a little bent. He also said that medication reduces the pain,” Mahmud said. “He is struggling through because obviously he wants to play. I think the calibre of player Shakib is and the experience he has had, he has perhaps played many matches with such small injuries, because they play for the team and the country. It’s not as bad as initially thought. MashAllah, the recovery has been good. I hope that they will play with full commitment.”
Adding credence to the notion that Shakib and Tamim will be up for Saturday's battle, Mahmud informed that the practice session was not being used as an assessment of their fitness.
“Not really; they could not practice much because Tamim came late, Shanto was not able to bat properly because of finger pain. Same with Shakib. So while the rest of the team were resting, they went there with some coaches to get a good net session in.”