Veteran batter Mahmudullah Riyad's World Cup hope appeared to be over after he failed to make the cut in the 26-member squad, which started preparation for the upcoming Afghanistan series Monday at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka.
Assistant coach Nic Pothas guided the first day's training as the head coach Chandika Hathurusingha is yet to reach Bangladesh. The head coach will come back to the country on June 3, a day before the practice session starts in full swing.
Team manager Nafis Iqbal informed that five of the 26 cricketers who are likely to feature in the bilateral series against Afghanistan, are yet to join the camp as they are with Bangladesh A team to play the third and final unofficial Test against West Indies A.
But with the 2023 World Cup in mind, Mahmudullah's exclusion raised an eyebrow. Despite losing his place after the ODI series against England at home in March, Mahmudullah was in consideration for a place in World Cup, according to Captain Tamim Iqbal and BCB President Nazmul Hassan Papon.
Nafis, however, informed that Mahmudullah was not called up for the preparation camp despite being present in the country.
"No [he was not called up]. If he was called up, you would have seen him here," Nafis said replying to a query.
The 37-year-old Mahmudullah of late has failed to meet up the demand of modern cricket as his lack of strike rotation came to the fore. Even his fielding was not top-notch as the age clearly took a toll on his body.
His replacement 20-year-old Towhid Hridoy, meanwhile, was electric in fielding and also scored runs with a healthy strike rate. Bangladesh has the backup in Yasir Ali Rabbi and Afif Hossain for this position, meaning Mahmuduallh's return to the squad looked completely bleak.
It is learnt Mahmudullah Riyad would leave the country on June 22 to perform Hajj and in this regard, he also sent a letter to the BCB. He is expected to return to the country on July 5, a day when Bangladesh will play their first ODI against Afghanistan.
However, Bangladesh's only Test against Afghanistan starts on June 14. The BCB will announce the squad for the lone Test ahead of June 4. Mahmudullah is currently playing only the ODI format of cricket.