Mahmudullah’s Test career on the line

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The Test career of senior batsman Mahmudullah is on the line after a string of poor performances in recent matches, officials of the Bangladesh Cricket Board indicated on Wednesday.

The former captain is unlikely to be picked for the one-off Test against Zimbabwe starting on February 22 in Dhaka, barring an injury of any other regular player, added the official.

Mushfiqur Rahim is set to return to the team after he skipped first Test against Pakistan and the selectors are in need to drop someone to accommodate him in the starting line-up.

As things panned out in the first Test against Pakistan, Mahmudullah looked like the player most likely to face the axe to make way for Mushfiq.

Many in the BCB saw the end of Mahmudullah’s Test career in his dismissal in the second innings against Pakistan, when he suffered a golden duck.

Having lost Nazmul Hossain and nightwatchman Taijul Islam in the previous two deliveries to teenager Naseem Shah, Bangladesh were hoping for Mahmudullah to stem the rot in that innings.

But he awkwardly managed to get a thick edge to the ball travelling wide from the off stumps for his third golden duck in career as Naseem completed a rare Test hat-trick.

Mahmudullah also did not do any justice to his reputation as an accomplished batsman in the first innings when he unnecessarily poked a rising ball to second slip to get dismissed for 25.

The experienced right-hander, who turned 34 a day before the start of Pakistan Test, has so far played 49 Tests to score 2764 runs at an average of 31.77.

He has so far scored only four Test centuries in a career spanning over a decade and three of them came in 2018-19 season, with highest 146 runs against New Zealand at Hamilton last year.

But in the last 10 innings since his century against the Kiwis, Mahmudullah scored only one half century, an innings of 67 against New Zealand in the same series at Wellington.

It was learnt that coach Russell Domingo also asked him to put more attention on shorter version and retire from Test after his awkward dismissal in Rawalpindi.

Domingo was instructed by the BCB high-up to shape-up Mahmudullah’s career, said an official.

Mahmudullah had had similar turmoil in his Test career when former head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe dropped him against Sri Lanka in Bangladesh’s hundredth Test and ordered him to return home.

But he stayed with the team as a non-playing member following the personal intervention of BCB president Nazmul Hasan, who was forced to act after public outcry in social media.

BCB officials said Nazmul is unlikely to make similar intervention this time in wake of embarrassing results in recent Test matches.

Bangladesh lost their last three Tests by an innings margin, which appeared to have prompted the BCB to take a hard-line about some underperforming players.

Speaking to reporters a day after Bangladesh won the Under-19 World Cup, Nazmul indicated to go tough on the senior side and Mahmudullah could be the first victim of any possible shakeup.

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