Shahriar, Enamul return, Shahadat retained, no room for Naeem
All-rounder Sakib al Hasan returned to the field after an injury lay-off to bolster the strength of the national team as the Bangladesh Cricket Board announced a 15-member Test squad for the forthcoming tour of Zimbabwe scheduled to start from April 17 at Harare.
Sakib did not appear in national colours since the second Test match against the West Indies as he was rested after sustaining an injury which had prevented him from featuring in the rest of the series.
The ace all-rounder also did not play any part in the recently-concluded series against Sri Lanka due to his surgery.
‘Sakib (al Hasan) will only play as a batsman in the first Test,’ chief selector Akram Khan told reporters while announcing the team at Mirpur on Friday.
‘Whether he will bowl or not is totally dependent upon his recovery time, but he will definitely be ready to bowl in the second Test match,’ said Akram.
The squad also included Tamim Iqbal who is fast recovering from his thumb injury that can provide him the opportunity to play the first Test match for which he had been ruled out earlier.
‘Yesterday (Thursday) physio Vibhab Singh e-mailed me to inform that Tamim (Iqbal) has a 50-50 chance of playing the first Test match as he is recovering fast,’ said Akram.
There was no place for pace bowler Mashrafee bin Murtaza though, despite a late attempt made by the national selectors to get his services in the Test series after his other pace bowling colleagues failed miserably in Sri Lanka.
Left-arm pace bowler Sajidul Islam got a surprise nod after five years to fill a slot for fast bowlers. The selectors were impressed with his eye-catching effort in the pace bowlers’ camp under the supervision of Academy coach Richard McInnes and hoped he can add some variety to the bowling.
‘Mashrafee (bin Murtaza) is not fit to play Test cricket right now and we wanted it to remain that way,’ said Akram.
‘Meanwhile, Sajidul (Islam) had done extremely well in the pace bowling camp after performing reasonably in the domestic circuit to earn a place,’ said Akram.
Sajidul, a natural swing bowler, made his Test debut against New Zealand in Dunedin in 2008 and picked up three wickets in two Test matches before going into wilderness for five years.
Sajidul though grabbed the spotlight in the recently-concluded Bangladesh Premier League after receiving a late call-up to Sylhet Royals on the back of his 27 first-class wickets for Rangpur Division and Central North Zone this season.
‘He (Sajidul) is expected to bring some variation in our pace department as we always seemed to prefer four right-arm pace bowlers in the recent past,’ said Akram.
But the chief selector admitted that a lack of options due to several players’ injuries had forced him to include Shahadat Hossain who performed poorly in the Test series and even worse in the lone Twenty20 International.
‘If I had an option I wouldn’t have included him (Shahadat) as we have provided him with several opportunities in the past and he needs to step up as he is playing for quite some time now,’ added Akram.
Pace bowler Abul Hasan’s unavailability due to a back injury had opened the door for Shahadat while Rubel Hossain and Robiul Islam retained their places.
Batsman Shahriar Nafees and left-arm spinner Enamul Haque Jr, who both missed out on the tour of Sri Lanka through injury, were also included though another injury casualty Naeem Islam was ignored, while batsman Marshal Ayub and spinner Elias Sunny were unable to attain a place in the 15-member squad.
Nafees was ruled out as he had cut his hand while cleaning his bat with a sharp knife while Enamul, coming into the national fold after three years, could not celebrate his call-up as he aggravated his hamstring injury that he sustained in the BPL.
Akram added that he was happy to see Mohammad Ashraful regaining his old form and expects him to fill the role at number three while he was confident that Jahirul Islam can be productive as an opening batsman.
Anamul Haque was not considered for selection due to his Higher Secondary Certificate exam, paving the way for Shahriar, who is also expected to provide a back-up for half-fit Tamim
Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Jahirul Islam, Mohammad Ashraful, Sakib al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Sohag Gazi, Rubel Hossain, Shahadat Hossain, Shahriar Nafees, Enamul Haque, Robiul Islam, Sajedul Islam.
-With New Age input