In a significant development, Bangladesh cricketer Mahmudullah will be unavailable for the upcoming ODI series against Afghanistan. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) announced on Monday that Mahmudullah has been granted leave to perform Hajj, a religious pilgrimage to Mecca. As a result, he will not be able to participate in the ODIs scheduled between June 22 and July 5.
Although Mahmudullah retired from Test cricket earlier, he has been out of consideration for T20Is and ODIs for some time. BCB’s Cricket Operation Chairman, Jalal Yunus, confirmed the news, stating that Mahmudullah will join the Bangladesh camp after completing his Hajj obligations. Unfortunately, his absence from the opening ODI on July 5 prevents him from featuring in the series against Afghanistan.
Recognizing the importance of Hajj for every Muslim, Yunus emphasized that Mahmudullah’s decision to skip the Afghanistan ODIs should not impact his chances of selection for the World Cup. However, it could potentially be a setback for Mahmudullah in terms of staking his claim in the World Cup squad. The upcoming series against Afghanistan was seen as an opportunity for the hosts to finalize their squad for the Asia Cup and subsequently the World Cup.
Currently, Mushfiqur Rahim occupies the number six batting position, a role previously held by Mahmudullah. The vacant number seven spot has been a topic of discussion, with players like Mehidy Hasan, Mahmudullah, and Afif Hossain being considered for the position. The Bangladesh team management has reiterated their faith in Mahmudullah, stating that he remains part of their plans and was set to be included in the preliminary squad for the Afghanistan series.
The 26-man squad assembled at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium for the Afghanistan series, with assistant coach Nic Pothas overseeing the initial day’s training as the head coach. Chandika Hathurusingha is expected to join the team in Bangladesh soon to resume his coaching duties.