Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal has pulled out from the ICC T20 World Cup in Oman and the UAE. In a video message through Facebook, Iqbal said he did not want to take the place of openers who have been playing in the format in his absence in the last 15-16 T20Is.
The left-hander had suffered a knee injury during the Test series against Sri Lanka in April this year. He did not feature in the T20I series wins against Zimbabwe and Australia and was not included for the five-match T20I series against New Zealand starting on Wednesday.
"A little while ago, I called our board president Papon bhai (Nazmul Hasan) and chief selector Nanno bhai (Minhajul Abedin). I want to share the same with you. I told them that I don't think I should be in the World Cup team and will not be available for the same. There are a few reasons why I am not available for the tournament. Game time is the biggest reason. I haven't been playing this format for a long time. I don't think my knee injury is a concern because I was going to recover before the World Cup," said Iqbal.
The 32-year-old was the top-run scorer in the 2016 T20 World Cup in India with 295 runs in six innings at an average of 73.75 and strike rate of 142.51. He also became the first batsman from Bangladesh to score a century in T20Is with an unbeaten 103 against Oman in a Group A match in Dharamsala.
"The main reason that clicked with me when taking this decision was: I don't think it would be fair on those players who have played in the last 15-16 T20Is that I haven't played. I was probably going to be in the World Cup team, but I believe it wouldn't have been fair on those players. I have conveyed my message to both board president and the selector," added Iqbal.
Iqbal made it clear that he is not retiring from the T20 format but believes that the young in-form openers would provide better service than him for the team. "I want to make it clear that I am not retiring but I won't be playing this World Cup. I think it is a fair decision. Those youngsters who are playing in the national team, they should get the opportunities. Their preparation will be better than mine. They will probably be able to serve the team better."
Iqbal wished the team good luck for the T20I series against New Zealand and the T20 World Cup. He added that he will look for playing opportunities before Bangladesh's next international assignment after the T20 World Cup. He also made a request to the media to respect his decision and privacy and that his decision is irreversible.
"I would ask the media not to call and not message me on Whatsapp. I have taken this decision and will stick to it. I have given you all the reasons. I am hopeful that you will respect my privacy and the decision. There's no controversy.
"This is what I felt. Those who are close to me know that whatever I do, I do it from the heart. My heart told me this was the right decision. I think it is the best for the team. I will try to keep myself busy with any format during this time," concluded Iqbal.