Dhaka – An strong Bangladesh Cricket team led by ODI captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza left the capital for United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sunday evening at 7:30 pm by an Emirates flight to participate in the six-nation Asia Cup Cricket beginning in Dubai on September 15.Two times Asia Cup finalists Bangladesh put in Group B with Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, will play Sri Lanka in the opening match on Sept 15 in Dubai and meet Afghanistan on September 20 in Abu Dhabi in day-night matches with a sweet memory of series win against hosts West Indies.
The ensuing Asia Cup will be held in the new format where six participating teams will initially compete in two groups and later two top teams from each of the groups will play in the super four stage.
Bangladesh’s Test and T20 captain Shakib Al Hasan is scheduled to reach UAE from USA to join the team on Sunday, denying all the allegation of his poor fitness.
Ahead of the tour, BCB earlier faced an awkward and embarrassing situation over the confusion centring Shakib Al Hasan’s fitness for the Asia Cup as he (Shakib) informed media that he was ’20-30 per cent fit’ for the tournament, adding that the top players cannot play with such low levels of fitness.
However, Shakib included in the 16-man Asia Cup squad as understood that BCB president Nazmul Hassan suggested Shakib to have the surgery after the tournament, skipping him from the Zimbabwe series in October.
Top order batsman Mominul Haque was included in the squad as a backup player if Shakib fails to play.
Reliable all-rounder Mahmudullah Riyad, who returned home after playing the Caribbean Premier League, accompanied the team on Sunday with light injury grabbed opening batsman Tamim Iqbal and Nazmul Hossain Shanta.
But, Bangladesh team manager Khaled Mahmud Sujon and chief selector Minhajul Abedin Nannu failed to accompany the team due to visa-related complexities.
Shujon, who was included in the team as manager in the dying moment, failed to process the visa in time due to late inclusion while Nannu’s visa has been delayed due to personal reasons.
However, both of them are expected to join the team before the opening match on Sept 15.
Meanwhile, Tigers’ ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has pledged to contribute his best for the team in the ensuing Asia Cup.
Addressing a press conference in Mirpur recently, Mashrafe said, “I did not have any specific target in the West Indies tour. This time, I also do not have any specific target, but excepting to contribute my best for the team.”
Two landmarks reckon the Bangladesh captain having 245 wickets in 190 ODIs. He needs three more wickets to overcome Pakistani speed start Shoaib Akhter’s 247 wickets and five more to reach the 250-wicket club in ODI cricket.
Bangladesh Squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Shakib Al Hasan (vc), Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Nazmul Hossain, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider
Standby: Mominul Haque (back up for Shakib)