Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo expects the recent ban on Shakib Al Hasan to affect the team’s performance against India in the upcoming T20 and Test series but is hopeful that his players will step up to the challenge against the formidable hosts.
Bangladesh’ build-up to the three-match T20 and two-match Test assignment was dealt a huge blow when Shakib was banned for two years, one year suspended, for failing to report three corrupt approaches from a suspected Indian bookie, a day before the team’s departure.
Ahead of the first Twenty20 International on Sunday, Domingo addressed the issue and was candid enough to admit that the dressing room is still recovering from the shock.
“He has been a big player for Bangladesh and is close friends with a lot of players. So it has obviously affected a few players. Obviously he has made a mistake and he is paying the price for it,” Domingo said during a press meet after a training session at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
“There’s not much we can control. Obviously it affects the team’s performance but we need to be focused on the series and the World Cup (T20),” he added.
Since Domingo took charge just a month back, he didn’t really get a chance to work with Shakib but what the South African understands is that the world’s No.1 all-rounder commands huge respect in the change room.
“I haven’t had a chance to know him personally but players have a great respect for him. But as I said, he has made a mistake and paid the price for it.”
Domingo admitted that Shakib’s dual skills, which fetched him more 11,000 runs and over 500 wickets across three formats, will be sorely missed.
“He bats at No. 3. Often, he opens the bowling, bowls first change, bowls four overs in every game, he is one of our leading batters. So you need to decide whether you replace the batsman or do you replace the bowler.
“Because you can’t replace both as it is very difficult to get players who provide both skills. So you might find yourself short in some department and strengthened in one department,” Domingo explained.
He is fully aware of his team’s limited resources as Tamim Iqbal is also out due to personal commitments and wants to make optimal use of the talent he has at his disposal.
“It will depend on conditions. If the pitch is flat, we will have an extra bowler and if the pitch does a little, may be have an extra batsman. It is very difficult to fill Shakib’s shoes but those available should try their best to get those numbers,” he said.
Domingo, however, is not sure how Shakib’s reintegration will happen after one year.
“One year in cricketing terms is a long time and I haven’t thought about it. How Shakib will be integrated in the team has neither crossed my mind nor the players’ mind,” he said.
It’s not ideal but no one will die: Domingo on pollution in Delhi
The prevailing smoggy conditions in the national capital are not perfect, admitted Domingo but said “no one is dying” as pollution is an issue in their country as well.
Domingo said getting exposed to poor quality air in India was not as big a shock for them as it is for some other countries.
Bangladesh players Al Amin, Abu Hider Rony and team’s spin consultant Daniel Vettori were seen wearing masks during their fielding session this morning.
“We know the Sri Lankans struggled last time and look there’s a bit of pollution in Bangladesh as well, so it’s a not a massive shock unlike some other countries. The players have just got on with the game and haven’t complained too much about it,” Domingo told reporters.
As the situation got better, the players removed their masks, except Vettori and other non-Bangladeshi support staff.
“It’s only three hours so it’s going to be easy. There maybe scratchy eyes, sore throat but that’s ok. No one is dying,” Domingo added.
The pollution levels in the Delhi-NCR region entered the “severe plus” category” on Friday, propelling the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority to declare a public health emergency.
The Supreme Court mandated panel also banned the bursting of crackers during the winter season apart from banning the construction activity till November 5.
On Thursday, Bangladesh batsman Liton Das briefly wore the mask during practice session but later said it was due to a personal health issue and not because of pollution.
Domingo admitted that the situation is not ideal and it’s same for both teams.
“There’s no breeze but obviously not perfect weather with the smog. But it same for both teams. Not perfect, not ideal but you can’t complaint about and get on with the game,” the coach said.
When India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour’s response was sought on prevailing conditions, he said,”You are asking the wrong person. I have played all my cricket in North India (Punjab and Himachal Pradesh). Basically nothing special. There is pollution but a game has been scheduled and we have to play.”
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly made it clear on Thursday that the match will not be cancelled at the last minute but promised practical scheduling in future, hinting that North India venues may not considered for matches post Diwali.