Mahmudullah Riyad and Mustafizur Rahman have been shortlisted in Bangladesh’s 27-man preliminary Test squad for their tour of Sri Lanka. Neither of the two players hold a red-ball Cricket contract, with Mahmudullah being told earlier by the team management to solely concentrate on white-ball Cricket.
However, it had been planned that the squad would be reduced to 20 players before they take off for Sri Lanka, and then, once they reach the island nation, three more players will be trimmed off and sent back home.
BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin told Cricbuzz, “Yes, Mahmudullah is there in the 27-member preliminary squad that we prepared for government order ahead of the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka. This is just a preliminary squad and we are working on visas for all these players. But when we will get into the hotel for the residential camp ahead of the tour it will be shortened to 20 cricketers.
“We are keeping everyone in the preliminary squad because we have to keep some stand-by. Considering the present COVID situation, stand-by’s are very important so we decided to keep seven. We have picked nine pace bowlers in the preliminary squad but that does not mean we will pick all of them as six pace bowlers will travel with us in the 20-member squad. We’ll select the 17-member Test squad after going to Sri Lanka and we will send the other three cricketers back to Dhaka.”
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However, the tour, comprising of three Test matches, which was postponed in the first place due to the pandemic, still remains doubtful due to the inability of the hosts to relay the official itinerary as well as the biosecurity bubble plans for the series. Currently, Bangladesh are expected to travel to Sri Lanka on September 27, and the Test series is scheduled to begin from October 24.
According to Cricbuzz, national health and security agencies of Sri Lanka have urged Sri Lanka Cricket to ensure that the tourists complete their 14-day mandatory quarantine after arriving in the island without any provision of training during the time frame, insisting they should remain isolated for the whole period in their hotel.
SLC, on their part, have only unofficially relayed the information to their Bangladesh counterpart and are yet to provide the official schedule and bio-bubble plan for the tour that is due to begin in Kandy.
BCB claim they were given the impression earlier that while they serve their quarantine period, they will have the opportunity to train and/or play intra-squad games before the Test series kicks off in October. However, they won’t be allowed to play matches against any local teams before completing their quarantine period.
Consequently, BCB had decided to travel to Sri Lanka with an expanded High-Performance squad on September 27 and were willing to foot the bills of their accommodation. A final squad for the Test series was due to be pruned after the conclusion of their intra-squad games, while the remainder were due to play two four-day and five one-day games against the Sri Lankan High-Performance squad on the sidelines of the Tests, that are a part of the Championship.
However, that looks doubtful now with the insistence of Sri Lankan national security agencies that tourists should have to complete the quarantine period restricted to their hotel premises only.
BCB’s cricket operation chairman Akram Khan said on Friday that while they have got the unofficial word about such bio-bubble plans, they are yet to receive anything official from their counterparts in this regard.
“Yes, we have heard that (their security agencies’ suggesting that we need to stay there for 14 days without any provision of practice) while we are hearing a lot of other things through different sources,” he said. “But they are not clearing the picture by coming up with their official bio-bubble plan and itinerary. We will take the final decision regarding the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka only after we receive their plans and the schedule, which we are expecting in the upcoming days.”
Meanwhile, Bangladesh started their preparation on Monday with the squad members expected to tour Sri Lanka completing their tests for COVID-19 upon regrouping. The contingent includes cricketers, support staff, and a few members of the High-Performance unit.
BCB is planning a week-long residential camp ahead of the tour that will mark the resumption of competitive cricket for both sides. The residential camp is set to begin on September 21. The BCB will be conducting COVID-19 tests in four phases, with three tests scheduled on September 18, 21, and 24 and the final test 72 hours before they take the flight to Sri Lanka.