Bangladesh cricketers got together as a team after more than six months in Mirpur Sunday Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik
The last time the Tigers were together as a team was when they hosted Zimbabwe in February-March this year
For the first time in 192 days, the Bangladesh national team cricketers set foot on the field as a team.
Majority of the preliminary squad members for the tour of Sri Lanka reported at Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium Sunday afternoon for a practice session before moving to the team hotel.
A total of 11 cricketers of the 27-member squad who have travelled from outside Dhaka have been kept in isolation at the BCB Academy, and will join the team after the latest round of Covid-19 test Tuesday.
According to Bangladesh Cricket Board, two cases have been identified as “borderline negative”, with one of them showing classical Covid-19-like symptoms.
As per the Covid-19 management guidelines, and in order to maintain bio-secure environment standards, the symptomatic individual along with all the players who have been in close contact with him recently, have been isolated until the next test.
The last time Bangladesh national cricketers were together as a team was when they hosted Zimbabwe for one Test match, three ODIs and two T20Is in February-March this year.
In mid-march, BCB suspended the sporting activities in the country due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, and this was followed by the postponement of the international schedule as well.
Imrul Kayes, Liton Das, Mustafizur Rahman and Mahmudullah stretch during training Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik
Bangladesh were originally scheduled to tour Sri Lanka in June-July.
According to current plans, the Bangladesh squad, along with the team management, will be grouped at a hotel in the capital to initiate a week-long bio secure bubble, before they board the scheduled flight Sunday, irrespective of the fact that the series itself is yet to be confirmed between BCB and Sri Lanka Cricket.
BCB president Nazmul Hasan last Monday rejected touring Sri Lanka as per the health safety terms which were initially imposed by the host nation.
Since then, SLC and concerned authorities of the island nation have been busy trying to work on terms suggested by BCB.
It is understood that despite the delay with SLC in confirming the terms, BCB has been informed that their Sri Lankan counterparts are on track to get the series a green light, and thus Bangladesh should maintain their preparation.
BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury said Saturday that they were expecting to hear from SLC in a day or two regarding the future of the series that involves three Tests, part of the World Test Championship.
Meanwhile, all-rounder Mahmudullah informed that the team are excited to be back to the field as a unit.
The cricketers since August have been coming to the field but were limited to individual practice sessions under special arrangement, which was later turned into sessions of small groups.
The cricketers are now undergoing skill training under the guidance of head coach Russell Domingo.
“We started individual session around four or five weeks ago, so got a lot time to work on personal things. I spoke to the batting coach [back then Neil McKenzie] and worked as per his guidelines. Now we are working as a team. The team are excited to be back as, at the end of the day it is a team game and it is useful when you get to enjoy the work with the colleagues,” said Mahmudullah to the media following the practice session Sunday.
“We have started practicing in Mirpur [as a team] after a long time. So it is nice to be back. The time during lockdown was tough because we were away from the team and the field. We had to keep ourselves busy with running and gym but not skill practice. Now we had individual skill sessions for a few weeks and have now started training as a team,” he added.
If eventually confirmed, Bangladesh will travel to Colombo with a month’s time in hand to practice before starting with the first Test on October 24.
The first two Tests are likely to be held in Kandy followed by the third and final Test in Colombo.
Bangladesh were mulling playing at least three practice matches ahead of the series, which is now in jeopardy due to the strict quarantine regulations.
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