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Najmul Hossain Shanto wants Tamim Iqbal ‘available for all formats’ for Bangladesh

Najmul Hossain Shanto, the Bangladesh captain, has become the first major voice in months to ask for Tamim Iqbal‘s presence in the national set-up, saying “if he is fit, I want him available for all formats”.

Shanto and Tamim, whose appearances for Bangladesh have been sporadic of late, spoke after the Dhaka Premier League match between Abahani Limited and Prime Bank Cricket Club at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on Monday. They had initially sat down to talk in the viewing area in one of the dressing rooms, but seeing too many cameras hovering around, they stepped out of view.

“I had a nice, long adda [chat] with Tamim bhai. We generally spoke about cricket. I asked about his well-being. We spoke about how we think about captaincy,” Shanto said on Tuesday after refusing to open up on Monday. “He has asked for a bit of time. He will think it over. We are in the middle of the Dhaka Premier League, so once the tournament is over, there will be more clarity. I can’t really tell you exactly what’s going on, since it is now a matter of biding our time.”

Shanto was emphatic when he spoke of wanting Tamim in his team, even suggesting that Tamim unretire from T20Is, which he did in 2022.

“[Tamim] retired from T20Is but if he is fit, I want him available for all formats,” Shanto said. “I think everyone in this country wants that. This is what I want but before everything, we have to see what he wants. Then the rest of the process. I spoke to him about what I want as a captain.”

Tamim’s international future has been unclear since he fell out with the BCB ahead of the 2023 ODI World Cup. He had initially retired from international cricket on July 6 last year, but reversed the decision the following day after intervention from the country’s prime minister. He resigned from the ODI captaincy in August. He briefly returned to the Bangladesh team in September, but then had a scrap with a senior BCB official, following which Shakib Al Hasan questioned his commitment to Bangladesh cricket during an interview.

“Overall, our pace-bowling unit has improved a lot. We have strength in spin and batting too. We win when everyone contributes”

Najmul Hossain Shanto

Tamim’s thoughts on the matter weren’t immediately known. But he will have time till the end of the T20 World Cup to think about his future. His fitness, of course, will be a point of discussion.

Shanto: ‘We don’t have any T20 specialists’

The big one next up is the T20 World Cup, in the Caribbean and the USA, and Shanto has urged Bangladesh’s fans and media not to have too many expectations of the team. He said the upcoming five-match T20I series at home against Zimbabwe will help them figure out their plans going into the tournament.

“The team is doing well, having won many of the recent T20I series. We definitely want to play on better wickets, especially those that were used in the T20I series against Sri Lanka,” Shanto said. “We will obviously try to replicate the wickets we will get in America. Although I don’t think it will be easy. We definitely want to finish well at home, so this series [against Zimbabwe] is very important.

“We don’t have any T20 specialists so we play as a team. When we do that, we usually win. Overall, our pace-bowling unit has improved a lot. We have strength in spin and batting too. We win when everyone contributes.”

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