Sabbir Rahman‘s return to the Test squad leaves Bangladesh with a dilemma: will they pick him for the No. 7 position or continue with Mosaddek Hossain? Both are free-flowing batsmen but Sabbir is more aggressive of the two and quick runs could prove valuable on what is expected to be a turning pitch in Mirpur.
The previous two Tests in Mirpur had also assisted spin with both matches not going into a fifth day. Sabbir’s style of batting could be more suited to the team, despite his iffy form in the last five months.
On his return to international cricket after suffering an eye infection, Mosaddek managed only 16 runs in two innings in Chittagong. He had got out to a poor shot in the first innings, but soaked up 53 balls in the second after a wobble to put the match beyond Sri Lanka’s reach. Mahmudullah, the stand-in captain, said that he was particularly impressed with Mosaddek’s measured innings on the final day in Chittagong.
“He started well in the first innings but he had a rush of blood to get out,” Mahmudullah said. “He worked hard in the second innings but since we needed to survive, he curbed his shots. Mid-on and mid-off were up so he had to contain himself. A wicket would have put us under pressure so he did that well during our partnership. I am sure he can perform better.”
Shakib Al Hasan’s absence has shaken up the balance of the team, and Bangladesh, perhaps, are now willing to gamble on an aggressive batsman. Sabbir might be out of form, but his ability to take the game away from the opposition is recognised by the team management.
At the same time, Mosaddek is also one of the most talented young batsmen in the country, but his relative lack of Test experience – coupled with Sabbir’s shock value – could put him out of the XI in Mirpur.
When asked how the team management evaluated a quick-fire fifty to a match-saving innings, Mahmudullah looked back at the home Tests against Australia and called for intent with the bat.
“A lot of it depends on the conditions,” Mahmudullah said. “Even when there was a lot of help for spinners in the Dhaka wicket last year, the Australian batsmen played with a lot of intent. They didn’t allow the bowlers to settle down by sweeping at them and going down the wicket. You have to know your strong zones and which bowlers to take on.”
While it doesn’t say much, Mahmudullah reveals just about enough on who will be Bangladesh’s No. 7 in Mirpur. Picking Sabbir might be a quick fix for Bangladesh, but it will be hard on Mosaddek, who has long been considered as an exciting talent.