Named Bangladesh’s T20I captain just over an hour after Shakib Al Hasan was banned by the ICC on Tuesday, Mahmudullah has called on his players to “play with our heart” in the three-match series in India.
Shakib’s absence has weakened an already depleted team further. Tamim Iqbal had earlier opted out of the tour, while Mohammad Saifuddin was sidelined with an injury. Mohammad Mithun, Taijul Islam and Abu Hider have since been brought in as replacements, with Mahmudullah promoted to the leadership role.
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The conversations centred on Shakib as the team assembled at the airport in Dhaka for the trip across to New Delhi, where the first T20I will be played on November 3.
“We have to play with our heart for the country,” Mahmudullah said. “I think this [Shakib’s absence] will work as motivation for us. I think there’s no greater honour than playing for the country. The responsibility to lead the side lies with me, so I will try to give it my all.
“The statistics don’t lie. It is a tough ask, but it is not impossible. We have to perform as a team, and ensure we take advantage of every opportunity.”
In what is a rather young side, Mahmudullah will have only Mushfiqur Rahim to lean on for help with Shakib and Tamim out.
“Definitely I will miss him [Shakib], since we have played together for so long,” Mushfiqur said. “It is tough to play without him as he is the No. 1 player. But it is also a good opportunity for youngsters.
“If someone was injured for a year, which could have been anyone, then it would have been an opening for the younger players. It is a challenge to beat India in their home turf but a challenge also means an opportunity.”
Left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny, who has made a return to the senior side after being banned for an illegal action in 2016, said, “Shakib has been the No. 1 allrounder in the world for a long time. I would have been more comfortable as a bowler knowing he is also around. He has a good sense of wickets in India given his experience in the IPL. So we will definitely miss him.”
Bangladesh will play two Test matches, including a day-nighter in Kolkata, after the T20Is, with Mominul Haque leading the long-format side.