Mahmudullah, Tamim ready for ‘more responsibility’ in Pakistan

Mahmudullah and Tamim Iqbal are the only two cricketers in Bangladesh’s T20I squad for the three-match series in Pakistan, who have toured the country before, back in 2008.

It goes without saying that in the absence Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan and Mashrafe Mortaza, a large part of the responsibility will have to be shouldered by those two.

Mahmudullah, the T20I captain, has been the side’s designated big-hitter in the slog overs in the last four years, having re-engineered his batting for the shortest format with a lot of success. But in the absence of Mushfiqur, it remains to be seen if Mahmudullah will continue to hold on to that role in the middle overs.

Ideally, Mahmudullah is best suited for the last six to seven overs, while Tamim is usually trusted to give the team a sound start, with the likes of Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar batting around him.

Unsurprisingly, Mahmudullah believes that he and Tamim will have to take charge of the batting line-up as they have done before, but this time there is going to be a heightened sense of responsibility.

“Tamim and I both feel that we have a little more responsibility,” Mahmuudllah said. “Tamim’s experience would matter a lot in the top order. He is in good rhythm, having made runs in the BPL. I will also try to fulfill my responsibilities too. My role would be to bat deep. The others are already adapting mentally that they may have to bat out of position in this series.”

Bangladesh’s coach Russell Domingo has already mentioned that nearly all batsmen in the team may have to bat out of position, and Mahmudullah said that someone like Afif Hossain could get a top-order spot after he had done well as an opener for BPL champions Rajshahi Royals.

“Afif played in the middle order in the last two series, but he batted well in the top order in the BPL. Some of the top or middle-order batsmen may have to bat down the order.

“It is important to cope with the mentality, but I think every player knows how much effort one is giving in the match or at practice, is the most important factor.”

Mahmudullah is also banking on an experienced pace attack that includes Shafiul Islam and Al-Amin Hossain, both of who performed quite well in India, as well as a revamped Mustafizur Rahman, who just took 20 wickets in the BPL. Bangladesh have also included Rubel Hossain and newcomer Hasan Mahmud in their attack. However, in a rare move, the team did not select a left-arm spinner for the squad.

“Having a proper variety of pace bowlers makes a lot of difference in T20s,” Mahmudullah said. “Plus, spinners won’t really come into play in Australia (for the World T20) so you are seeing a number of pace bowlers in the squad. Rubel, Al-Amin, Shafiul and Mustafizur have done well in the BPL.

“They provide variety to our bowling attack. I am not too worried about the lack of a spinner. I think probably our pace bowling attack is more experienced, and I will rely on them.”

Mahmudullah also said that Bangladesh will not change their approach to the series despite Pakistan’s dismal form of late in T20Is. He believes the team’s best bet would be to utilise all the players who are in good nick with bat and ball from the BPL.

“Everyone in the squad has done well in the BPL. I am confident with my team. We have to see how well we can apply ourselves in Pakistan.

“Pakistan may have not played up to potential in the last few series but they are a strong side. I am sure they are concerned about their series loss to Sri Lanka. But we are focused on our game. We must utilise the number of in-form cricketers we have in the squad. If we play to our potential, we can win the series.”