Bangladesh cricket team’s director Khaled Mahmud said that it’s difficult to ignore an experienced player like Mahmudullah while selecting the squad for the forthcoming ICC Twenty20 World Cup.

The Bangladesh team probables started a special training camp in Dhaka on Monday under the team’s technical consultant Sridharan Sriram.

Mahmudullah is going through a lean patch with the bat
Prothom Alo

Mahmudullah, whose last T20I half-century came against Papua New Guinea in last year’s T20 World Cup and in the 11 match since that World Cup he has averaged 16.54 at a strike rate of 102.82, trained at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium on Sunday under the watchful eyes of Sriram.

The selectors are expected to announce the 15-man squad for the T20 World Cup on 15 September.

Mahmudullah’s poor form has raised many questions for the national team’s think tank, who are reportedly split over whether or not to keep the 36-year-old in the World Cup squad.

Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur Rahman in discussion with technical director Sridharan Sriram and team director Khaled Mahmud
Shamsul Hoque

When asked if an out of form Mahmudullah should be picked in the squad, Mahmud told the reporters, “As there are still two days left, it’s too early to answer this question. Riyad (Mahmudullah) is in the camp… he is an important figure in our white ball setup."

“We are thinking about it, we still haven’t taken the final decision. We will make that decision when it’s time to finalise the team. I just want to say that Riyad (Mahmudullah) is still an important player for us. It’s not that we aren’t discussing all possibilities. It’s good to discuss why we should keep Riyad and why should we drop him. Moreover, we also have to think about who will replace him and why.”

The guy (Mahmudullah) has been serving Bangladesh cricket for so many years. No one will play forever, that’s natural. But we always want to value their service.
Khaled Mahmud

Mahmudullah has played 121 T20Is, the most by any Bangladeshi cricketer. His vast experience could be a reason to keep him in the side. But Mahmud said they won’t take experience into account while selecting the squad.

“As he is still playing in this format, he is just like the other cricketers we have in the format. He has experience. But we are not differentiating anyone on the basis of experience. Riyad (Mahmudullah) is as important for us as is someone like Rabbi (Yasir Ali). All of them are a nationally contracted cricketers.”

However, Mahmud said that they will take Mahmudullah’s ‘service’ for the national team into consideration while finalising the squad.

Mahmudullah has played 121 T20Is for Bangladesh
Prothom Alo

“The guy (Mahmudullah) has been serving Bangladesh cricket for so many years. No one will play forever, that’s natural. But we always want to value their service.

“Shakib (Al Hasan), Mashrafe (Bin Mortaza), Tamim (Iqbal), Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim, who the media have named the ‘fantastic five’, we can’t ignore their contributions. Maybe Mushfiq thought it was the right time to say goodbye to T20Is. I respect his decision.”

Out of the ‘fantastic five’, only Shakib and Mahmudullah are left in the format as the others have already called time on their T20I careers.

Mahmud agreed that Mahmudullah, who Shakib succeeded as skipper, hasn’t delivered what was expected of him as a player in T20Is for some time.

Still, Mahmud batted in favour of the all-rounder, “Riyad (Mahmudullah) is still eager to play and is trying to improve. We didn’t get what we expected from him. He has played some small innings here and there.

“But Riyad (Mahmudullah) is a match winner, we can’t forget that. He has singlehandedly won a few ODIs for Bangladesh with the bat. You can’t just say ‘no’ to a player like that. But definitely, the team is bigger than any individual. At the end of the day, we will do what’s best for the Bangladesh team.”