INDORE: Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque said on Wednesday the absence of banned all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan will be like missing two players, as the team prepared for their two-Test series in India.
Bangladesh arrived in India in shock after Shakib was handed a two-year ban, with one-year suspended, for failing to declare illegal approaches by a bookmaker in 2018.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) ban ruled Shakib out of the tour and next year’s World T20 in Australia.
The touring side is also missing prolific opener Tamim Iqbal, who took a break due to family reasons.
“We are missing three players in two players. Shakib is two players in one, and then you have Tamim,” Mominul told reporters on the eve of the first Test which starts at the Holkar Cricket Stadium on Thursday. “It is challenging, but I also see it as a chance to do well for the rest of the players.”
Mominul, much to his surprise, was named Test captain in place of Shakib and the batsman feels the responsibility will only make him a better player.
“I will probably be playing like I have always played as a batsman,” said the left-hander. “The positive side of captaincy is that your cricket knowledge becomes better.”
The 28-year-old added: “It is a huge opportunity for me as one of the junior players. Not everyone becomes Test captain, so I want to take this opportunity to do something more for the country.”
The series is Bangladesh’s first in the newly introduced World Test Championship led by India with two series sweeps already under their belt.
Mominul said it was a great opportunity for Bangladesh’s players to make an impression.
“Playing a full series against India is a great opportunity for everyone in the team,” said Mominul. “Everyone wants to start well here, and on top of it we are playing the Test championship. Makes it a bigger opportunity for the players.”
Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah will lead the team’s batting alongside Mominul who was not part of the T20 squad.
“I never considered captaincy as pressure or responsibility. If I keep thinking that as a captain I have to take extra responsibility to carry the team forward then I will be in some pressure,” Mominul said after being named captain.
Meanwhile, Virat Kohli’s India will be aiming to strengthen their number one position as the hosts start as red-hot favourites to pick up 120 points from the two games.
India have recorded two sweeps in the five-day format since the start of the championship in August, beating South Africa and the West Indies.
New Zealand and Sri Lanka are second and third, already 180 points behind though they have played only one series each.
India go into the first match boosted by a 2-1 Twenty20 International series win over Bangladesh.
Kohli, who opted out of the T20 matches, returns to lead the side that recently won their record 11th straight series at home.
Rohit Sharma has been on hot form, hitting two centuries and a double ton in his debut series as opener against South Africa.
The pace department also looks settled despite the absence of injured Jasprit Bumrah and played a key part in the three convincing Test wins over South Africa.
Kohli rated India’s seam attack as the best in the world with Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma in the squad.
Shami and Yadav shared 24 wickets during the recent South Africa series.
“If you ask me, we’re right at the top,” Kohli said. “Batting was never an issue, spin was never an issue. After Zak [Zaheer Khan] and all the stalwarts went away, we were thinking how can we get back to the top, have the ability and the firepower to pick 20 wickets.
“Just seeing the way they’ve bowled, it’s the belief that stands out. Any kind of the pitch, any kind of opposition, they believe that they can get more out of the pitch than the opposition. “
The second match of the series will be a day-night affair with the pink ball making its India debut at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
INDIA: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav.
BANGLADESH: Shadman Islam, Saif Hasan, Mominul Haque (captain), Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Nayeem Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain, Abu Jayed, Ebadat Hossain, Imrul Kayes.
Umpires: Marais Erasmus (South Africa) and Joel Wilson (West Indies).
TV umpire: Rod Tucker (Australia).
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka).
Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2019