Faced with the absence of injured stalwarts Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, the national selectors have opted to recall a promising youngster and hand a maiden call-up to a domestic journeyman for the upcoming three-ODI home series against Zimbabwe.
Apart from Tamim and Shakib, the players missing from the original 16-man squad that played Bangladesh's last assignment -- last month's Asia Cup -- are Mominul Haque and Mosaddek Hossain. Soumya Sarkar, one of two openers flown out as emergency reinforcements during the tournament, also misses out but Imrul Kayes -- the other opener who hit a half-century in the Asia Cup -- retains his place.
30-year-old Fazle Rabbi -- a top-order batsman and an occasional left-arm spinner for Barishal in the National Cricket League (NCL), South Zone in the Bangladesh Cricket League and Khelaghar Samaj Kallyan Samity in the Dhaka Premier League -- has earned his first call-up to the senior squad. He was included in the preliminary 31-member squad for the Asia Cup but did not survive the final cut.
Pace-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin earned a recall for the first time since last featuring for the national side in ODIs in the triangular series final against Sri Lanka in January.
"Since Shakib is not there, we need a top-order batsman," chief selector Minhajul Abedin told The Daily Star yesterday evening. "He [Fazle] has played well consistently, done well against Sri Lanka A and Ireland A. He can also bowl left-arm spin."
In the first-round NCL match against Rangpur Division earlier this month, he hit 195, his seventh first-class ton. He had innings of 73, 53 in the one-dayers during Bangladesh A's tour of Ireland in August, and had hit 59 in the first home one-dayer against Sri Lanka A in July.
"We saw Soumya, he has not regained form yet, but he is not outside our consideration. We thought the Zimbabwe series is the best time to give Rabbi a chance."
For the 21-year-old Saifuddin -- who has three ODIs and six T20Is in national colours -- the call-up may have come as a surprise because Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan had said on Tuesday that the pacer seemed to have lost his bowling radar.
"We kept Saifuddin with the squad for speedier development as a pace-bowling all-rounder," Minhajul explained. "Usually we name a 14-man squad for home series. He has been included as the 15th member with an eye to the World Cup in England."
Zimbabwe and Bangladesh will play three ODIs on September 21, 24 and 26 before a two-Test series.
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (C), Liton Das, Imrul Kayes, Nazmul Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah Riyad, Ariful Haque, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Mustafizur Rahman, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Abu Hider, Mohammad Saifuddin, Fazle Rabbi.