Batting uncertainties set to continue? | The Daily Star
12:22 AM, September 14, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:32 AM, September 14, 2017

Batting uncertainties set to continue?

The Australia series ended in bittersweet fashion; it was a historic shared series which saw Bangladesh win their first Test against the mighty Aussies, but the defeat in the second Test raised many questions about Bangladesh's misfiring batting order and especially the confusion surrounding the number three and opening positions.

With one-time opener turned makeshift number three Imrul Kayes and current opener Soumya Sarkar both included in the squad for the South Africa Tests, the message from the team management seems to be that they will continue with the arrangement -- playing a Test with three openers.

The number three spot is arguably most crucial in the batting order and, barring injury, generally the team management does not tend to tinker or replace someone as a make-shift option.

But Tigers head coach Chandika Hathurusingha has experimented with the number three position in Tests as Imrul was asked to bat there despite being successful for large parts of his career as Tamim Iqbal's opening partner.

Imrul had expressed discomfort about batting in the unfamiliar position before the Australia series, during which the left hander had scores of 0, 2, 4 and 15 in his four innings.

Since making his Test debut against South Africa in 2008, Imrul has one century at number three, but since that hundred in 2014 he has averaged 14 in his eight innings at the position. The 30-year-old has played 25 of his 30 Tests as an opener, striking two centuries at an average of 27.34 while forming by far Bangladesh's most prolific opening pair with Tamim, with an average of 47.93 and high point of a 312-run stand against Pakistan in 2015.

However, after nine years of international cricket Imrul is yet to settle into his position, and that is also down to his inconsistent performances, which required him to make a comeback with a bang whenever he was dropped from the side.

With a solitary fifty in his first 16 Tests, Imrul was dropped from the side in 2011 and made his comeback after over two years when he smashed a century against Sri Lanka batting at number three.

Once again, Imrul is under pressure after scoring just one fifty in his last 15 innings and the upcoming tour of South Africa could well be his last lifeline to regain form and secure a position in the playing eleven.

On the other hand, Soumya made an entry to the Test side with high expectations, but lost his place after three Tests in 2015. On his comeback to the Test team the left-hander scored 86 and 36 against New Zealand earlier this year and hit three consecutive fifties against Sri Lanka.

Thereafter, however, the 24-year-old lost his way and failed to form a consistent partnership with Tamim, as scores of 10, 8, 15, 33 and nine in his last five innings testify.

Hathurusingha however has great belief in the stylish batsman.

But the question still stands whether the team management is heading towards a settled opening pair but it seems like there are hardly any back-up option in the opening spot as Imrul is expected to bat at number three yet again in South Africa.

Just nine Tests old, Soumya averages 32.11 including four fifties. He has displayed his ability on bouncy tracks and the elegant left-hander will have to prove his worth in the Bangladesh opening slot.

Hathurusingha has been known to say that he wants competition for every spot, but the current situation displays a lack of it, especially in the opening and number three positions. Mominul Haque -- a regular number three until the second Test against Sri Lanka earlier this year -- is in the squad and also not sure about his position as he batted at four and eight in the second Test against Australia. So, with neither Imrul nor the currently unsure Mominul looking like a solid number three and considering that Soumya seems to be the lone option beside Tamim, the coach's mantra rings a little hollow.

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