The selectors’ announcement in Dhaka yesterday confirmed what those who have followed the Bangladesh team since the start of the series in Ireland had already suspected -- that the 15 selected for the ICC World Cup starting from May 30 would meet requirements for the Tigers’ tilt at a first ever World Cup semifinal, and beyond.
Before the Ireland tri-series -- which Bangladesh ended by winning their first multi-team ODI silverware, that too undefeated -- there was much speculation over whether Taskin Ahmed would be included in the World Cup squad as the pacer had been shoehorned into the Ireland squad at the eleventh hour.
Even with four extra members in the Ireland squad -- Taskin, Forhad Reza, Yasir Ali and Naeem Hasan -- Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s pre-tour words held true. He had said before departing for Ireland that the 15 members picked for the World Cup would be given priority, and that is what has happened. The players who played the four matches in Ireland were all from the original World Cup squad.
That Bangladesh won their maiden tournament silverware in Ireland could be seen as a product of that settled mindset and the courage it imbued to the lesser lights of the squad. During Bangladesh’s run to their maiden World Cup quarterfinal in 2015, then coach Chandika Hathurusingha and captain Mashrafe had presided over a mindset and an atmosphere that stressed on the need for togetherness, and that would not have been possible this time around if the team management kept looking for solutions outside the group that had originally been entrusted with driving Bangladesh’s campaign.
Whether it was because of this trust, or in batting consultant Neil McKenzie’s words the stiff competition for places, a lot of unusual suspects put their hands up to be counted in Ireland. Taskin’s candidacy was thwarted by the till-then uncapped Abu Jayed taking a five-for against Ireland in his second game. Soumya Sarkar -- against whom inconsistency used to be the most persistent charge -- hit quickfire half-centuries in each of the three matches he played.
Last but in no way least, Mosaddek Hossain was a surprise inclusion in the World Cup squad because while he has always impressed in domestic matches, he had not set the world alight in his international outings. His unbeaten 24-ball 52 in the Ireland tri-series final against the West Indies, however, did what none of his more celebrated teammates were able to do -- deliver triumph in a tournament final.
All of this has led to a very positive vibe within the team in Leicester. Most auspiciously, it is not even the full squad that was enjoying a rest day yesterday at the Hilton Leicester. Mashrafe, their leader both spiritually and on the field, and Tamim Iqbal -- their best batsman and the member who leads them in culinary and recreational endeavours on tour -- will rejoin the team in Cardiff from May 24 after returning from a break following the Ireland triumph.
The good vibes are only about to pick up, and the selectors’ decision two days before the ICC deadline for final squads could not have come at a better time.