Asia Cup 2018: Shakib Al Hasan’s fitness in question as player-board confusion continues
Last month, Shakib told reporters that he wanted to undergo surgery on his finger before the Asia Cup. @AFP

Speculation remains on whether Shakib Al Hasan is fully fit for the 2018 Asia Cup, just days before the Bangladesh cricket team’s departure for the UAE.

According to ESPNcricinfo, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) director Jalal Yunus has blamed Shakib for putting the board in an “awkward and embarrassing situation” after he was requested to put off surgery in his worrisome finger until after the Asia Cup, which runs from September 15-28, and skip Bangladesh’s home series against Zimbabwe in October instead.

On August 30, Shakib was named in the squad for the Asia Cup, after the BCB left the decision to undergo surgery with the talismanic allrounder.

During an ODI series versus Sri Lanka in January, Shakib injured the little finger on his left hand and subsequently missed the Test and T20Is of that series. He returned in March to play the T20 Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka after undergoing treatment in Australia, where doctors had advised him to have surgery. Last month, Shakib was Man of the Series in Bangladesh’s 2-1 T20I series victory over West Indies in the Caribbean and Florida, but on arrival in Bangladesh Shakib told reporters that he wanted to undergo surgery on his finger before the Asia Cup.

As per reports, Shakib was then quoted as telling an English daily that he was “20-30% fit”. On Thursday, when speaking to the media in Dhaka, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza and new head coach Steve Rhodes found themselves defending claims that the star allrounder was not match-ready.

“I don’t believe he is 20-30% fit. I think he is a lot fitter than that,” said Rhodes. “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 he was in, 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 president. The Asia Cup is very important to Bangladesh. He is not fully fit, but if he plays anything like he played in the Caribbean, then that will be a massive asset to Bangladesh cricket. This guy is a tremendous cricketer. Even if Shakib was 60-70% fit, you’d get a lot of cricket out of Shakib Al Hasan.”

Added Mortaza: “Overall, the way Shakib batted in West Indies, it was very effective for us to win. I think it is enough for him to maintain at least that level of fitness. It is Shakib’s decision to make. He has decided to play and when he plays, he’ll give his hundred percent.”

Shakib is currently in the USA and is expected to link up with Bangladesh in the UAE ahead of their first match against Sri Lanka on September 15. The squad will fly from Dhaka on September 9.