Shakib’s absence will motivate Bangladesh, says stand-in T20I skipper Mahmudullah
'The responsibility to lead the side lies with me.'
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Just when Bangladesh cricket was thinking that the worst was behind after the players’ strike met its goals successfully, a new tragedy unfolded. Shakib Al Hasan, who leads the Tigers in Tests and T20Is and is also his team’s most accomplished all-rounder, has been handed a two-year ban by the International Cricket Council (ICC) — one year of which is suspended — after he accepted three charges of breaching the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Code. As a result of Shakib’s ban, Mahmudullah was set to captain Bangladesh in the T20Is and Mominul Haque in the Tests in India scheduled in November.
Mahmudullah, who is one of the mainstays of Bangladesh batting but has not been scoring enough runs in international cricket, has hit some form in the domestic National Cricket League recently. The 33-year-old feels Shakib’s absence will give additional motivation to his players and he asked them to “play with heart” in the upcoming T20I series starting November 3. Bangladesh have never beaten India in either T20Is or Tests so far.
Bangladesh will not be deprived of Shakib’s service but also that of ace opener Tamim Iqbal, who has pulled out because of family reasons. Mohammad Saifuddin is also unavailable for the series because of injury. Mohammad Mithun, Taijul Islam and Abu Hider have been picked as replacements.
‘We have to play with our heart’ – Mahmudullah
Speaking to ESPNCricinfo ahead of the team’s departure for India from Dhaka airport, Mahmudullah said, “We have to play with our heart for the country. 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.”
Mahmudullah, who has played in 80 T20Is with four fifties, has captained Bangladesh earlier as well. In 2018, he led them in five games but could win only one and lost four. With two experienced campaigners in Shakib and Tamim not available, Mahmudullah only has another veteran Mushfiqur Rahim to fall back on during the series which promises to be tough.