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‘Nasty game, not injury, behind my exclusion’

A day after being excluded from the World Cup squad on fitness grounds, Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal said that a nasty game, not injury concerns, played a key role in his last-minute omission.

In a video statement on his Facebook page, the left-hander also claimed that a lot of lies circulated in the media to obscure the truth. He said that he never declined to play the third one-dayer against New Zealand on Tuesday, nor did he say anything about being available for five World Cup games as reported.

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Things were set in motion after a Monday midnight meeting between coach Chandika Hathurusingha and captain Shakib Al Hasan at board president Nazmul Hassan's residence, where Shakib reportedly said he would not captain the side if unfit players were selected.

The Daily Star reached out to the Bangladesh Cricket Board, but nobody wanted to speak on the matter.

In a 12-minute-plus recorded statement, posted after the national team's departure for India at around 4:00pm, Tamim said that nowhere in the latest medical report did it say that he was unfit for the World Cup. 

The medical report even detailed Tamim's injury management leading up to the first World Cup game against Afghanistan on October 7, according to Tamim. 

The crux of the problem was a telephone conversation with a top board official, during the course of which the left-hander was asked to bat down the order and sit out the first World Cup game. 

While baring his soul, the most successful Bangladesh opener said: "In the last two or three days, what has happened and what was written is completely different from what actually happened."

Narrating the events since his return to national team for the New Zealand series, he said: "You all know I announced my retirement (on July 6 this year) and there was a reason for it. I returned at the request of the prime minister. 

Tamim, who is carrying a recurring back injury, said he worked very hard for the past two months to get fit. 

"Those who were involved in the process, physios and trainers, will all agree that there was no session or exercise that they wanted me to do which I did not comply with," he said.

He said the New Zealand series was a real test for him to see how his fitness had improved.

After missing the chance in the first game due to rain, Tamim scored a fluent 44 in the second match.

"After that game I was very happy mentally. I was looking forward to playing again and I was looking forward to the World Cup," said the 34-year-old batter.

He said that the pain was still there after both games and that he had informed the physio and the selectors about it. 

"I want to clear one thing: I never at any moment or time said that I would not be able to play more than five matches (in the World Cup). I don't know who fed this lie to media or how.

"What I told the selectors is that my body would be like this. Pain will be there. So, when you select the team, keep that in mind," he said, adding that he communicated it in good faith to avoid another controversy such as the one during the Afghanistan series, when it was circulated in the media that if someone is not fit, he should not play. 

"I was surprised at that time because I played that game (first ODI against Afghanistan) after agreement with the coach and physio."

He said he would challenge anyone regarding his current medical report, which he claimed to have seen. 

The report said if Tamim was rested for the third ODI against New Zealand and played the second warm-up game in India on October 2, then he would have completed his 10-week rehabilitation.

"Nowhere in the report was it said that I would not be able to play more than five games. 

"I don't think injury played a big role in my exclusion from the World Cup. I have pain but I'm not injured," he stressed.

When told to bat down the order or sit out games, Tamim responded: "I told him that we have another 12-13 days and that I would be in good condition by then. Why won't I play?"

Tamim said that such incidents made him feel that someone was intentionally putting obstacles in his path to dishearten him.

"What I said to him is that if you have such a plan then don't send me to World Cup. I don't want to be part of this nasty thing," Tamim said, adding had those terms been presented differently, his reaction perhaps would have been different.

"I'm not sure how fair it is," he said, adding that one or two episodes can be a misunderstanding, but when seven episodes happen to one cricketer in the last three or four months, it is done intentionally. 

"That is what I felt."