Ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan has been recalled in the 15-member Test side for the tour of Zimbabwe. However, the left-hander, who is recovering from an injury on his right shin, can play only as a batsman in the first Test.
Apart from Shakib, slow-left armer Enamul Haque Jr and top order batsman Shahriar Nafees, both of whom missed the tour of Sri Lanka due to injuries, have been recalled as well. Also selected in the side is left-arm pacer Sajidul Islam, who last played a Test match for Bangladesh in 2008. Experienced Bangladesh paceman Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, as earlier speculated, has not been included in the 15-man squad as he is yet to recover from a heel injury.
“We received Shakib’s fitness report on Thursday and based on that it was decided that Shakib can play the first Test only as a batsman. His chances of bowling in the first Test are fifty-fifty, however we expect him to bowl from the second Test onwards,” informed Bangladesh Cricket Board’s (BCB) chief selector Akram Khan.
While it is still unsure whether Tamim Iqbal, recovering from a thumb fracture, will play the first Test, the team management is confident that the player will recover in time for the second. The other openers in the team include Jahurul Islam and Nafees. Mominul Haque’s good performance in the last series has led to him being retained. He will however have to fight to get his place in the playing eleven. With Shakib and Tamim back in the side, there are a number of possible combinations that the team management can afford to go with.
As far as batting goes, the team selected yesterday bears a solid look as the Tigers will travel to Zimbabwe with a full-strength batting line-up. The bowling however is a different story. The recent tour of Sri Lanka saw the team struggling with a barely-fit and inexperienced pace line-up. The situation is not likely to improve significantly when the Tigers take the field for the first Test against Zimbabwe on April 17.
With pacer Abul Hasan injured and Mashrafe deemed unfit to play Test cricket, the selectors picked Sajidul to provide an extra option. “There remains a weakness in our pace bowling department. Sajidul had a good run in the Bangladesh Cricket League and also played a few good matches in the Bangladesh Premier League. He also trained under the academy here the last month. So we are trying out a different bowler,” said Akram.
The other pacers in the side are Rubel Hossain, Robiul Islam and Shahadat Hossain. While Rubel and Robiul are more likely to make it through to the playing eleven, Shahadat will have to contest with Sajidul.
“Shahadat is doing okay in Tests. Not too bad but not that good either. If I had a better option then I would have taken someone else. But its time for him to show some improvement,” said Akram. Spinners Shohag Gazi and Enamul complete the bowling line-up.
Mushfiqur Rahim (captain & wicketkeeper), Mahmudullah Riyad (vice-captain), Tamim Iqbal, Jahurul Islam, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Shohag Gazi, Rubel Hossain, Shahadat Hossain, Shahriar Nafees, Enamul Haque, Robiul Islam, Sajidul Islam.