The confusion around Shakib Al Hasan's fitness for the Asia Cup has put the Bangladesh Cricket Board in an "awkward and embarrassing" position.
Shakib sustained a finger injury during the final of the tri-nation Twenty20 International series against Sri Lanka in January, and missed the following home T20I and Test series against the island nation.
He returned to action for the Nidahas Trophy in March and captained his side in the multi-format series against the Windies in June-August.
After helping his side to ODI and T20I wins after a disappointing Test series loss to Windies, the Bangladesh all-rounder announced that his finger required an injury, saying: "I have to do a surgery. So the discussion now is about when to do it. I want it to happen as soon as possible. It will most probably be before the Asia Cup."
Bangladesh have named their squad for the Asia Cup! 🇧🇩— ICC (@ICC) August 30, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/0UlNTZ0a2Y pic.twitter.com/TywdIodAfF
The board announced a 15-man squad in the last week of August for the upcoming Asia Cup, which will kickstart from 15 September. However, in a recent interview with The Daily Star, Al Hasan said, "I am 20-30 per cent fit right now. I still have pain in my hand, so honestly, I don't know how I would bat or bowl. I am out of practice for some time so I have no idea."
Jalal Yunus, the BCB director, in reply told the media that Al Hasan "didn't tell us when the selection was being finalised, or at any other time. It would have been better if he had told us that he was 20-30% fit earlier. He didn't say that he can't play."
Steve Rhodes, the Bangladesh coach, felt that Al Hasan's statement "has hit the headline". "I don't believe he is 20-30% fit. I think he is a lot fitter than that. That sort of statement has hit the headline.
"I am pretty sure Shakib is a lot fitter than that. He is in no real different state to the state in West Indies, where he played some fantastic cricket with bat, ball and in the field.
"Everybody knows that he does need the operation. He has made that decision after speaking to the BCB president. Asia Cup is very important to Bangladesh. Even if Shakib was 60-70% fit, you'd get a lot of cricket out of Shakib Al Hasan."
Mashrafe Mortaza, Bangladesh's ODI captain felt that Al Hasan would be fit enough to play the 50-over tournament.
"Since he played in the West Indies, I am sure he'd know his exact situation," Mortaza said in a press conference on Thursday. "His performance was very useful for winning there. I think it is more than enough if his fitness is at that level. But we can't do anything about it. He took the decision and since he will play, I am sure he will give his 100%."
Snaps of Bangladesh team today's practice session. pic.twitter.com/wrhmVoboHw— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) September 3, 2018
The whole of the Bangladesh squad is currently participating in a preliminary camp in Dhaka ahead of the Asia Cup, while Shakib has taken time off with his family in the United States.
"It doesn't make an impact on the rest of the team," said Rhodes. "Shakib is really, really respected by the rest of his colleagues in the dressing room. The time-off with family, I think it is important that everybody realises that Shakib plays a lot of cricket. He doesn't just bat. He bowls and fields and captains as well. He plays all formats.
"In making sure Shakib is playing at his best and freshest, we can give him opportunities to be with his family. It will make him a better player. He has done all the practice when he was younger. He did it out in the middle, bowling 50 overs every innings in Tests. It is not too necessary that he practices all the time. He showed in the Caribbean without much practice what a quality cricketer he can be."