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Ban vs Pak 1st Test – Mominul Haque

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Bangladesh captain urges team-mates to “back each other” and stay focused amid waves of public criticism

Mominul Haque has the monumental task of changing Bangladesh’s mood in and out of the dressing room. There has been an air of negativity around the team for the past two months. Nine defeats, fiery press conferences and public criticisms in the T20 World Cup was followed by a siege mentality during the T20I series against Pakistan in Dhaka.

Everything from the cricket team, the board, and the overall structure and culture of Bangladesh cricket has come into question.

On the eve of the first Test against Pakistan, Mominul urged his team to stop worrying about what is being said, and do what they are supposed to do, by bringing the focus back to cricket.

“This is not the first time Bangladesh has gone through such a phase,” Mominul said. “We have overcome such situations before too. People become mentally weak, because they take outside talk seriously. My job is to bring back focus from thinking about what everyone is saying, and focusing on our job. We have to back each other. You cannot shut anyone’s mouth but I think you can shut off your own ears.”

But the job at hand – playing a Test match against Pakistan – is doubly hard for Bangladesh as injuries have kept out big names like Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, while Mahmudullah has retired from Tests. Taskin Ahmed, who has shown good form in his Test comeback, is also out with a finger injury he sustained during the third T20I in Dhaka.

“I don’t want to call it a difficult challenge. ‘Difficult’ has a negative meaning. I don’t want to see it negatively. Tamim bhai gives us good starts that we have often capitalised on. Shakib is two players in one. Taskin has been bowling well recently.

“We are effectively missing four players. It makes my captaincy a bit more challenging but Mushfiq bhai and I have to take on the added responsibility.”

Mominul wants the focus on those who are in the squad, including Abu Jayed, Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Taijul Islam, a bowling trio that has carried a major bulk of the attack. “Mustafizur (Rahman) hasn’t played a Test for a long time. Both Taskin (Ahmed) and Shoriful (Islam) are unfortunately injured. But we have to think about those who are in the squad.

“(Abu Jayed) Rahi has been our leading wicket-taker in the World Test Championship. Ebadot is also playing Tests regularly. We also have (Mehidy Hasan) Miraz and Taijul (Islam). I have confidence in my bowlers. I think if we bowl well, we can take 20 wickets in this game,” he said.

“We have overcome such situations before too. People become mentally weak, because they take outside talk seriously.”

Mominul also expects Liton Das to bounce back from his T20I downturn, which cost him his place during the Pakistan series last week.

“There’s a big difference between Tests and T20Is. When we keep mentioning T20s, it becomes difficult for me. I think Liton has overcome the (mental aspect) of it.

“He has averaged 45-50 in Tests in the last 12 months. I think he can handle it well. He had a mental break. Everyone is supporting him.”

Mominul said that Bangladesh’s next couple of Test series will offer a peak into their Test future. They were without Shakib for almost the entire 2019-21 WTC cycle, although Tamim and Mushfiqur have been heavily involved. Mahmudullah’s Test chapter has also drawn to a close, which means that Bangladesh are now forced to think about younger cricketers for these vacant spots.

“Everyone wants results. Not just me. I think it is a good opportunity for the youngsters. You will get a picture of the direction our Test team is taking in this, and some of the future series. We definitely have long-term plans in Tests. We want to build slowly, and within a series or two we will know where our Test team stands.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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BBL11 2021-22 – Bowling attack gives Melbourne Renegades hope of revival

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The batting remains questionable and they will be looking for the youngsters to develop

Captain Nic Maddinson
Coach David Saker

Squad
Cameron Boyce, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Josh Lalor, Shaun Marsh, Jono Merlo (replacement player), James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, James Seymour (replacement player), Will Sutherland, Nic Maddinson, Reece Topley (Eng), Unmukt Chand (Ind), Mohammad Nabi (Afg), Zahir Khan (Afg)

In Nic Maddinson, Jono Merlo, James Seymour, Reece Topley, Unmukt Chand, Zahir Khan
Out Beau Webster, Peter Hazloglou, Jon Holland, Benny, Howell, Noor Ahmed, Imran Tahir, Imad Wasim

Last season

It was another disastrous season for the Renegades finishing last for the second straight year. They won their first match and then lost seven in a row. Their batting was abysmal, bowled out for less than 90 on three occasions and 111 in another match against Adelaide. The bowling was nowhere near as effective as season’s past and they struggled to find a consistent unit as they mixed and matched their overseas players. There was one bright spot as they produced a brilliant chasing win over Melbourne Stars late in the season. Mackenzie Harvey starred smashing 47 not out from 21 balls to give a glimpse into the future.
International impact
Renegades have been severely impacted by both Australia selection and injury. Nic Maddinson‘s selection in the Australia A side to face England Lions means the new Renegades captain won’t get a chance to lead his new club until their fourth game at the earliest. Marcus Harris is set to miss most of the season due to Test duty. Aaron Finch is in doubt for the early games due to his ongoing knee issue while Shaun Marsh is set to miss at least half the tournament due to a calf tear. England does have tour of West Indies in the new year and Afghanistan is scheduled to visit Bangladesh but it is unknown if the likes of Reece Topley, Mohammad Nabi or Zahir Khan will need to leave the BBL early.
Player to watch
Reece Topley is an important recruit for Renegades and has a chance to make a serious statement to England selectors ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia next year. Fellow Englishman Harry Gurney was a key part of Renegades’ run to the title three years ago and Topley has a similar opportunity to cause havoc on the inconsistent home surface of Marvel Stadium.

Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)
Renegades were the worst bowling unit in the previous BBL edition. Their bowling economy rate of 8.61 was the highest among all teams and their death bowling economy was 11.24. If Renegades want to play finals, this is an area they need to focus on. Their attack certainly looks stronger this season

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Chris Gayle farewell on the cards with Jamaica set to host West Indies-Ireland series

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The series will comprise three ODIs and a one-off T20I, all at Sabina Park

West Indies will play three ODIs and a T20I against Ireland in Jamaica from January 8 to 16, the CWI has announced, with the possibility that the standalone T20I will be used as a farewell match for Chris Gayle.

While Gayle will not be part of the ODI squad, with the series counting towards 2023 World Cup qualification through the Super League, the one-off fixture at Sabina Park could be used as his farewell game. ESPNcricinfo understands that a decision has yet to be made on Gayle’s inclusion but that the issue will be up for discussion at the next meeting of CWI’s board of directors later this month.

“It’s whether collectively we all feel that it’s appropriate for him to have one last game at home to say farewell in a one-off game,” Johnny Grave, CWI’s chief executive, told the Mason and Guest radio show in Barbados last month. “That Ireland series would represent that opportunity.

“It would certainly be appropriate, as far as I can see it, to treat our players and give them the opportunity to bow out – especially players like Chris who have had unbelievable careers and won trophies for the West Indies.”

Ireland will travel to the Caribbean on December 31, immediately after their series against USA which starts on December 22 and comprises two T20Is and three ODIs. They have already named their squads for both tours, with Kevin O’Brien left out and David Ripley taking temporary charge as interim head coach.
Ireland last toured the Caribbean in 2020, drawing the T20I series 1-1 and losing the ODI series 3-0. Sabina Park was also the venue for one of the finest moments in Irish cricketing history, their victory over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup on St Patrick’s Day.

“We are pleased to be returning to the Caribbean where we have so many great memories,” Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland’s performance director, said. “The World Cup Super League is a crucial set of fixtures for Ireland as we attempt to qualify for the next Cricket World Cup, and – if the series in 2020 is anything to go by – we look forward to a highly competitive series in January.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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Bangladesh tour of NZ BCB approves Shakib Al Hasan’s request to skip New Zealand tour

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Nazmul Hassan says BCB has no problem with players wanting a break, but says it should happen via official channels

BCB president Nazmul Hassan said on Monday that the board has accepted Shakib Al Hasan‘s leave request to skip the New Zealand tour for which Bangladesh are scheduled to leave later this week. Some days ago, Hassan claimed that Shakib only informed them “unofficially” of his reluctance to be on the tour, and hours later, Shakib reportedly had requested the board by handing over a letter officially.

“We have accepted his request,” Hassan said. “We have been saying this for a long time that we have no objection if a player wants to take a break or rest, but it has to be informed officially. The thing is, we want to be informed about such a decision in advance as it is difficult for us if it is informed suddenly. From January, if anyone wants a break, he has to inform us in advance so that we can prepare alternatives.”

This is the third time in 2021 that Shakib has skipped a tour for Bangladesh. He opted out of the white-ball tour of New Zealand in March due to paternity leave before missing the two Tests against Sri Lanka in April to play in the IPL.

Hassan felt Shakib should have asked for the leave officially, rather than informing them verbally.

“This [the confusion] is not embarrassing, to be honest. We simply didn’t know about it, officially,” Hassan said. “The thing is, these things have always happened unofficially. Now, to avoid confusion, we are emphasising that these matters should be official.”

Bangladesh’s tour of New Zealand includes two Tests, part of the World Test Championship, beginning on New Year’s Day. The team will leave on December 9 to complete quarantine and then play practice matches.



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