Bangladesh is set to face the 2023 World Cup without the presence of arguably the country's greatest batsman, Tamim Iqbal.
The exclusion of Tamim from the 15-man squad is attributed to a persistent back injury. According to reports, Tamim had communicated with the selectors a couple of days ago, urging them to consider his back injury when finalizing the squad.
The batter played in the recent ODI series against New Zealand.
Minhajul Abedin, the chief selector of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), clarified the decision to leave out Tamim, stating, “We are all aware that Tamim Iqbal is a long-term injury concern. He returned for the New Zealand series, but after the first match, there were signs of discomfort. We took his injury concerns seriously when making the squad selection.
“We held discussions with Tamim, although the details of our conversation remain confidential. We also consulted with the team management and concluded that we didn't want to take any unnecessary risks during the lengthy World Cup campaign. This event holds immense significance for us.”
Tamim's return to international cricket on September 23 in the second ODI against New Zealand saw him score 44 runs. It was his comeback game after reversing his decision to retire in July. Unfortunately, he was subsequently sidelined due to his persistent back problem, causing him to miss the Asia Cup.
Initially, the BCB had announced that the World Cup squad would be unveiled at 5:45 pm on September 26, two days before the deadline. However, they later postponed the announcement until after the third ODI between Bangladesh and New Zealand. This delay led to speculation that Tamim Iqbal could make the cut, but ultimately, he was omitted.
Following the second New Zealand ODI, Tamim mentioned that he still experienced discomfort in his back, and the team's physiotherapists were actively working on his recovery.
Subsequently, the medical team decided to rest Tamim Iqbal, along with several other players from the ODI squad, for the third game against New Zealand.
Tamim's exclusion from the World Cup squad serves as a strong indication that he has likely played his final ODI for Bangladesh.
Throughout his illustrious career, Tamim served as the opener in all three formats between 2007 and 2020. He stands as the leading run-scorer in ODIs for Bangladesh and played a pivotal role in securing the team's automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup.
However, a series of injuries and allegations of unprofessionalism from BCB president Nazmul Hassan led to Tamim's retirement from international cricket on July 6. Despite initial retirement, Tamim's decision was revisited at the request of the country's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina.
Nevertheless, his prolonged struggle with back issues and subsequent resignation from captaincy seems to have led to the end of a glorious era.
Bangladesh announce World Cup squad
The rest of the Bangladesh squad follows a largely expected pattern, with Shakib Al Hasan leading as captain. Litton Das, the vice-captain, will partner with Tanzid Hasan as the opening pair, while Najmul Hossain Shanto is designated as the No. 3 batsman.
The middle order comprises Shakib, Towhid Hridoy, and Mushfiqur Rahim, while Mahmudullah and Mahedi Hasan offer options in the middle to lower order.
Mehidy Hasan Miraz, who has batted in various positions in ODIs this year, will continue as a versatile player. Mehidy may open in certain matches, but his primary role remains at No. 7.
The pace attack includes Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Hasan Mahmud, Mustafizur Rahman, and Tanzim Hasan. Left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed secured a place in the World Cup squad following impressive performances in the Asia Cup.
Notably, the squad features four players from the Under-19 World Cup-winning side in 2020: Hridoy, Shoriful, Tanzid, and Tanzim.
World Cup Squad: Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Mushfiqur Rahim, Litton Das (vice-capt), Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Shoriful Islam, Nasum Ahmed, Mahedi Hasan, Tanzid Hasan, Tanzim Hasan, Mahmudullah