The change in Shakib Al Hasan's batting position from number three to four has generated much discussion even before the start of the three-match ODI series against the West Indies. The change was made despite the cricketer putting in an all-time great performance in the 2019 World Cup while batting at three.
The star all-rounder scored 606 runs, including five fifties and two centuries, at an outstanding average of 86.57 in the flagship event and in many eyes, Shakib was the player of the tournament for his extraordinary performance.
But after completing his one-year international cricket ban imposed by the ICC and leading into his international comeback in the series against the West Indies, skipper Tamim Iqbal and the team management said they wanted young Nazmul Hossain Shanto to move up to number three.
According to Tamim, as Shakib was coming back after a long gap, he needed some breathing space to adjust. Tigers' head coach Russell Domingo said on the other hand that they wanted to develop some young batters and the subcontinent is the best place to give them exposure at the top.
There may however be a more straightforward reason. Sources with knowledge of developments said there is a good chance that Shakib will not go on the tour of New Zealand to be with his family during the birth of his third child.
Bangladesh are scheduled to depart for New Zealand in late February to play three ODIs and three T20Is. With the possibility of Shakib missing the tour in mind, the team management wanted Nazmul to gain experience at number three during the ongoing West Indies series.
Although a player of Shakib's calibre can bat at any position at any given time, the Tigers' think tank will give the highest priority to their best performer if he is willing to bat at his preferred position in the coming days.
At the same time, it is also a huge opportunity for someone like Nazmul to grab this opportunity and perform at the new position, much like Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal did in the absence of India's regular players during their stellar series win down under.
"We all know how well he [Shakib] batted at number three during the World Cup. He is happy to bat at number four and I even told him that whenever he wanted to bat at number three again, we can talk and he was perfectly okay with it," Tamim told the media ahead of the three-match ODI series.
Nazmul came in at number three in the first ODI but the youngster failed to utilise the opportunity and was dismissed for just one run. Shakib on the other hand spent some time in the middle and scored 19 runs batting at number four before being dismissed during the chase of the paltry 123-run target.
"Look, the team management made a decision and as a player, I have to respect that. It is not important whether I agree or not. I always try to play for my team and my team's achievements are bigger than my personal milestones and it doesn't make a huge difference," Shakib said after the first ODI on Thursday.