Saqlain chooses WI over TigersStaff Correspondent
Bangladesh’s preparation for the forthcoming New Zealand series received a jolt after Pakistani spin-bowling consultant Saqlain Mushtaq decided to help the West Indian spinners instead of joining the Tigers’ camp, according to the players and officials.
The Tigers are scheduled to play a three-day preparation match in Khulna from September 3, but Saqlain will be on the other side of the world, beginning a three-week spin camp in the West Indies.
Saqlain is pledge-bound to work with the Bangladeshi spinners for a minimum of 100 days in a year but has served them for just over a month so far. It was expected that he would join the Tigers’ set-up before New Zealand’s visit, but the chances of that are now very slim.
Bangladesh off-spinner Sohag Gazi was particularly looking forward to working with him, especially after his recent struggles with the A team in the UK.
‘As an off-spinner, it would always be helpful to have him around,’ Sohag said on Friday. ‘I met him once in England, but it seemed like he was preoccupied with other engagements.
‘I was looking forward to working with him during the preparation for the New Zealand series, but I am not sure of his present status and the decision lies with the [Bangladesh Cricket] Board,’ he added.
Saqlain, who took 208 wickets in 49 Tests and
288 wickets in 169 One-Day Internationals during his international career, joined the Tigers on August
14 last year on a four-month contract, which began
with a Twenty20 tournament in the West Indies and was followed by the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh reaped the rewards of his services in the home series against the West Indies, who had no answer for Sohag’s bowling.
Saqlain’s input seemed to be instrumental in developing the lanky spinner’s mental strength in dealing with the added pressure of international cricket.
‘He was extremely helpful during my debut series and had imparted some very useful tips, which I believe worked wonders for me,’ Sohag said.
Chief selector Akram Khan, however, insisted that Saqlain should not be considered for any series in particular, but rather that he should be utilised both during the season and in the off-season to get the most benefit from his expertise.
‘We need to chalk out a plan so that he can train our cricketers for the maximum number of days,’ Akram said.
‘A spinner of his stature can always help a youngster with his insights after observing his shortcomings.
‘After figuring out someone’s weakness, there is no other alternative other than practice to rectify it. He also needs to work during the rectification process,’ he added.
BCB cricket operations chairman Enayet Hossain Siraj could not be reached for comment as he is presently out of the country.
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