Shakib returns as Tamim waits

A jovial Shakib Al Hasan (R) and Soumya Sarkar are seen during a Test in Chattogram last year. The pair will return to Test cricket against West Indies in Chattogram. PHOTO: STAR file

In recent times, whenever squads for an upcoming series are announced there is a buzz around fresh faces. However, when the squad for the upcoming two-Test series against West Indies was announced yesterday, headlines were dominated by a familiar face -- that of Test and T20I captain Shakib Al Hasan.

The inclusion of the left-hander came as a huge relief as he was finally given the all-clear to return to action following a lengthy lay-off. He will lead the Tigers in his inimitable way from the first Test in Chattogram, set to begin on November 22.

Opener Tamim Iqbal was not included in the 13-member squad for the first Test but chief selector Minhajul Abedin said that the left-hander may be included in the squad for the second Test.

Minhajul also informed that Tamim, who recently started batting again in the nets, had suffered a side strain during training and would be assessed by the medical team on November 23.

Shakib has been nursing a finger injury that he sustained during a tri-nation series in January this year. Although he returned for September's Asia Cup, he had to return from the UAE midway through the tournament due to the finger being infected. The all-rounder also travelled to Melbourne earlier this October to have his finger examined.

Shakib started light batting practice in the nets earlier this week but it was uncertain whether he would be fully fit before the Test series. He said that he was feeling better but added that it would take time to get fully match fit. However, all the speculation ended with yesterday's announcement.

Alongside Shakib, left-arm opener Soumya Sarkar and 17-year old off-spinner Nayeem Hasan were inclusions in the shortened 13-member squad for the first Test against West Indies. Liton Das, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Abu Jayed, Shafiul Islam and Nazmul Islam were all dropped from the 15-member squad that had been named against Zimbabwe.

Minhajul said Liton's failure to impress in the recent Tests against Zimbabwe, combined with Soumya's impressive form in the National Cricket League (NCL), earned the latter a spot in the squad.

The former national captain also mentioned that Soumya's ability to handle fast bowlers would also be useful against the West Indies pacers.

"Soumya has done well in the NCL while Liton has failed in Tests, so we want to give him [Soumya] a chance. Soumya plays fast bowling quite well and the fast bowlers of West Indies can consistently bowl within a range of 140-145 KMPH so we hope Soumya can do well against them," Minhajul said.

The left-handed opener last featured in a Test for Bangladesh in September last year against South Africa.

It was not surprising that Nayeem -- who was also named in the Test squad for a series against Sri Lanka earlier this year -- was included, especially after he bagged 28 wickets in the recently-concluded NCL.

However, Minhajul said that the youngster was only a backup.

The visiting West Indies squad undergo a catching practice session at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium yesterday on the eve of today's two-day warm-up game against a BCB XI. PHOTO: Rajib Raihan

"Nayeem is a future prospect. Right now we are considering him as a backup option for Taijul [Islam] and Mehedi [Hasan Miraz]," added Minhajul.

Mustafizur Rahman and Jayed are the only two genuine pacers in the squad, indicative of how Bangladesh intends to approach the first Test.

Jayed, who was the standout pacer for Bangladesh in July during the Tigers' tour of West Indies, was surprisingly dropped but the selectors stuck with another pacer in the form of Khaled Ahmed.

"It was the coach's plan to drop Jayed for the first Test. The nature of the pitch in Chattogram is slow and Khaled can generate more pace than Jayed and can be more useful in those conditions," concluded Minhajul.


Shakib Al Hasan (Captain), Soumya Sarker, Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Mithun, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque,  Mahmudullah Riyad, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Syed Khaled Ahmed, Nayeem Hasan.


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