In a format where a team only gets 20 overs to bat, the importance of a solid opening pair that can set up the base and score at a brisk rate, can’t be overstated.
All top T20I teams in the world possess a solid opening pair. So, it’s no surprise that Bangladesh, who are struggling in the shortest format of the game, don’t have a stable opening partnership in the format.
Munim is still new and Bijoy (Anamul) is just coming in. They will have to be given the right opportunity and at the same time, me and the team management must ensure that they can play with peace of mind and get their opportunities in the correct way.Mahmudullah, captain, Bangladesh T20I team
In the last 10 T20Is, Bangladesh have tried five different opening pairs. Mohammad Naim opened the innings in all of those matches and was accompanied by Liton Das, Saif Hassan, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Shakib Al Hasan and Munim Shahriar.
Naim had been a regular member of the T20I setup since 2021, featuring in 28 of the 29 T20Is Bangladesh has played during this period. He is also Bangladesh’s highest ranked batsman in T20Is, currently ranked at 28.
But the left-hander won’t open the innings for Bangladesh in the three-match Twenty20 series against West Indies as he has been dropped from the squad.
The management gave Naim the long rope, but his poor strike-rate and inability to rotate the strike has brought about his exclusion from the squad.
In Naim’s absence, Bangladesh is set to see a new opening pair in T20Is in the West Indies series. After exhausting multiple options, the selectors have picked three openers for the three-match series against West Indies- Liton Das, Munim Shahriar and Anamul Haque.
Liton is almost certain to open the innings and alongside him either newcomer Munim Shahriar or a returning Anamul Haque will come out to bat.
Munim, who made a name for himself in the last edition of the Bangladesh Premier League after being the only Bangladeshi opener with a strike-rate excess of 152.13 in the tournament, played two T20Is against Afghanistan in March.
But he couldn’t set the stage on fire in his debut series, only making 21 runs in the two innings.
Anamul Haque, on the other hand, hasn’t played a T20I for Bangladesh since November 2015. After almost seven years, the right-hander has won his place back in the squad on the back off a record-breaking season in the 50-over competition Dhaka Premier League.
Bangladesh also have the option of promoting Shakib Al Hasan or all-rounder Mahedi Hasan to the opening slot. Afif Hossain is another such candidate that has done well in the opening slot in domestic T20 competitions but is yet to open the innings in the international arena.
With the next T20 World Cup set to take place in October, the management doesn’t have a lot of time in their hands to experiment and try out different opening combinations.
In the pre-match press-conference on Friday, T20I captain Mahmudullah said he is in favour of giving players an extended run to give them a chance to succeed.
“Munim is still new and Bijoy (Anamul) is just coming in. They will have to be given the right opportunity and at the same time, me and the team management must ensure that they can play with peace of mind and get their opportunities in the correct way.”