“They have tremendous amount of potential, but they have to deliver big time” – ODI captain on Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar
Despite sloppy work from Rahim behind the stumps in recent times, Iqbal feels that his experience and overall record of having kept in 347 international matches – the fifth-highest overall – makes him the top choice for the job.
“I am very happy with his wicketkeeping. (Half) chances and dropped catches are part of the game. I know how hard he works, so I have no complaints,” Iqbal, the Bangladesh ODI captain, said on Friday. “The team management, coach (Russell Domingo) and I definitely want him to keep wickets in the three ODIs. You are talking about some dropped catches but he has done a wonderful job as a wicketkeeper over the last 13-14 years.
“I have complete trust in him and give him my full support. I think he should continue to keep wickets for Bangladesh.”
Rahim’s wicketkeeping came into sharp focus during the ODI series against New Zealand in March when he dropped two chances. He had also dropped one during the West Indies ODIs in January. The veteran wicketkeeper has spilt a total of ten catches in the last three years in white-ball cricket internationally.
Iqbal also put his weight behind Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar, two batters with a lot of potential who have gone through a rough patch this year. In ODIs, Das has made only 76 runs in six innings in 2021, while Sarkar has scored 40 runs in four innings.
“I hope they take the lead. They have tremendous amount of potential, but they have to deliver big time. We have seen glimpses from Liton and Soumya but if they do well now, it will help the team,” Iqbal said. “They understand they should be more consistent – like Mushfiqur Rahim, for example. If they become consistent, we will be a better ODI team at home and away.”
Bangladesh have dropped Najmul Hossain Shanto, who was given the No. 3 role for two series last year and against West Indies this year, and with Shakib Al Hasan returning to international cricket after a three-month break, that spot will become his again.
“There will be expectations but we also have to remember what Shakib did at the 2019 World Cup, scoring 606 runs in nine matches, third highest in the tournament,” Iqbal pointed out. “But it is not always possible. I would love Shakib to bat like that in every series but it is a very rare performance. If it doesn’t happen, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. I won’t panic in that case. I am sure he will do well at No 3.”
The return of Shakib and Mustafizur Rahman has added some muscle to Bangladesh’s bowling too. “Mustafiz is a great weapon for us,” Iqbal said. “What he did at the IPL was pleasing to see, and we want him to bowl at that level all the time. But we have to note that he got assistance from the wicket. He bowled extremely well there, and I hope he continues to do that for Bangladesh as well.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84