Nazmul the answer to the opening dilemma
The Bangladesh team management's biggest concern heading into the new season, which will begin in June with the upcoming three-match T20I series against Afghanistan, is finding a stable opening partner for Tamim Iqbal in all three formats.
A lack of consistent performances from Tamim's opening partners -- a role that has been occupied by Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Liton Das, Anamul Haque, Mohammad Mithun and even Zakir Hasan -- has seen the team management shuffle with a number of options. However, none of them have impressed and with the new season approaching it will be interesting to see whether they will opt for a fresh alternative.
Bangladesh have played 14 T20Is since 2017 with a combination of five different opening pairs. Among the 19 ODIs in that period, six opening combinations were tried while four permutations featured in 11 Tests.
Yet, the selectors have been unable to solve the puzzle of who to partner Tamim, but perhaps young batsman Nazmul Hossain Shanto -- who is in the preliminary squad for the Afghanistan series and the tour of West Indies following it -- is the missing piece.
The left-hander, who made his Test debut on a tour of New Zealand last year, showed glimpses of his talent in the testing conditions after he was included as a last-minute replacement.
The 19-year-old has matured a lot since his debut, showing his class on the domestic front and finishing as the leading run-getter in the Dhaka Premier League this year with 749 runs from 16 games at a healthy average of 57.61. His impressive haul featured four hundreds and the youngster has his eyes on the merry-go-round opening slot in the national team.
"I have understood a lot since playing my first Test. I learned how to play longer version cricket and tried to implement that in the domestic circuit. So far no one has been able to cement their place alongside Tamim bhai. I am not saying that I will be able to secure the opening slot, but my intention is to perform consistently," Nazmul told the media at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Nazmul said that he had worked on his batting strike rate and was looking for consistency in order to cement his place in all the three formats for the Tigers in the future.
"I have realised during the age-level days that I should focus on my strike rate to keep up with the international level and I tried to work on that during the domestic leagues," he added.