Bangladesh national team started their conditioning camp at Mirpur on Friday ahead of their upcoming tour of India but their Test and T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan was missing.
Head coach Russel Domingo, spin bowling consultant Daniel Vettori and fast bowling coach Charl Langaveldt joined the side in today's camp. Shakib, for unknown reasons, was absent from the camp.
The camp commencing on time is a big sigh of relief for the country's cricketing arena as even 48 hours earlier, the India tour was in jeopardy following the cricketers' strike.
The cricketers went on strike with 11 demands on Monday and had declared that they will not take part in any cricketing activity until those demands were met. Following a meeting with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) on Wednesday, the players called off the strike after they were assured by BCB that their demands will be met.
Friday's camp saw Daniel Vettori join the Tigers for the first time since his appointment as the spin bowling consultant, marking the first of his 100 days on duty.
Arafat Sunny, the left-arm spinner, talked to the media after the day's practise session where he talked about his return to the team and preparations for the upcoming India series. Sunny has returned to the side after 2016 when he was banned because of an illegal action. Coincidentally, it was for another India tour that he came back.
Sunny said that he was surprised to return to the team but also said that he had been playing good cricket for the last three years. He said, "My target was to do the best I can, and apparently that is why they considered me for the series." He added that returning to the team after such a long gap made him happy and he will try to hold on to his place.
Sunny and Al Amin Hossain has returned to the side after a long break and it was said that they have been elected to assess the resources to ensure a good side for the T20I World Cup in 2020. Asked if this was an additional challenge for them to perform, he replied that the game was always challenging and it was the duty of the players to play under challenge. "We have our individual plans from our side. As a left-arm spinner, I am trying to work on how I will try to leak fewer runs, bowl wicket to wicket and pick wickets." He also added that he will try to do his best and will do anything to retain his place in the side.
Asked about Vettori, Sunny said that the former New Zealand spinner was someone who all the left-arm spinners followed. He also said that this was only the first day and he (Vettori) just saw the bowling of the bowlers. Sunny added that they will supposedly talk to him later to improve their skills.
Inquired in which sector of his bowling Sunny was expecting help from Vettori, Sunny replied, "He (Vettori) can help us by telling how to bowl on which wicket as he knows the pitches better by playing a lot of matches in India and coaching in the Indian Premier League (IPL)."
Questioned if Vettori could help the Bangladesh team as he is not from the Asian sub-continent, Sunny replied that he (Vettori) might have been unsuccessful in such pitches but he had the experience which can be followed to make themselves (the Bangladeshi spinners) better.
As Indians naturally play spin better, Sunny was asked how he was planning to stop them. He replied, "As this is only the first day, we have not done much planning. But we will analyze their videos and surely make a plan for them before we travel to India."
Asked if he felt good returning to the field after their strike, Sunny said that what is gone is gone and now the team is focusing on the upcoming India series. Asked about his captain's (Shakib) absence, he said he did not know about it much, but Shakib must have informed the team management about it.
Bangladesh have a leg-spinner (Aminul Islam) and two left-arm spinners (Shakib and Sunny) in their squad for the India series. In such circumstances, Sunny was asked how much of a chance did he see of him getting into the first team. Sunny said that the lineups were not decided yet and it would only be confirmed on the pitch and conditions. He added, "The team will try to play the best combination. If I get a chance, I will try to do my best."
Bangladesh have had some tight T20I matches against India in the recent past and Sunny said that the team are going to India to win and will try their best to clinch Bangladesh's first win against India in this format.
Bangladesh's first T20I against India is on the third of November, with the other two following on the seventh and 10th. The T20I series will be followed by a two-match Test series, which will commence on the 14th and 22nd November respectively.