Mahmudullah and Rubel Hossain have been recalled to the Bangladesh squad for the two-match Test series against South Africa which starts from September 28. Allrounder Shakib Al Hasan isn’t part of the squad after the Bangladesh Cricket Board accepted his request for a short break from Test cricket.
Pacer Subhasis Roy is also part of the 15-member squad announced on Monday (September 11) while offspinner Nasir Hossain has been left out with the selectors deciding to go in with a pace heavy unit for the two Tests at Potchefstroom and Bloemfontein.
Rubel last played against New Zealand in the second Test at Christchurch in January and has missed five Test matches since. Mahmudullah was dropped for Bangladesh’s historic 100th Test, played in Sri Lanka, owing to lack of form and missed both the Tests against Australia. His experience playing in foreign conditions is understood to have been integral in his recall to the setup, especially with Shakib deciding to take a break.
Nasir hasn’t made much of an impact for his team in Test cricket. Since his debut in October 2011, he has picked up only eight wickets in 19 Tests at an average of 55.25. The 25-year-old has gone wicket-less since picking up two in the Test match against Sri Lanka in Chittagong in February 2014. Before the Test series against Australia earlier this month, Nasir had last played a Test in July 2015.
“As there is no Shakib we opted for him [Mahmudullah],” chief selector Minhajul Abedin told reporters while announcing the squad. “We considered Mahmudullah as we feel that he can play well on bouncy wickets where the ball comes to the bat at a quick pace. We have taken a spinner [Taijul Islam] in place of Shakib as initially we preferred to have five-man pace unit along with Shakib and Mehidy [Hasan],” he added.
Although Shakib isn’t part of the squad, Minhajul is hopeful that the allrounder will change his mind and join the team ahead of the second Test. “We have not considered Shakib Al Hasan in the two-match Test series against South Africa as the board approved his appeal for a break. But he can join if he is comfortable.
“He did not get rest for a long time so he needed a break. It is difficult to form the squad when the best player is not around. His name comes to the mind first when we form a team. It (his absence) is difficult but at the same time we have to understand his mental state and as a former player I know if you are not mentally fit it is difficult to perform your best. We have given him rest for two-match Test series but we are hopeful that he can join after the first Test match,” said Minhajul, mentioning that a slot will be open should the allrounder wish to join the team.
Even if he misses the second Test, which starts on October 6, Shakib is expected to join the team for the subsequent limited-overs assignments. After the two-match Test series, Bangladesh will play three ODIs and two T20Is against South Africa, with the second T20I on October 29 marking the end of the tour.
Bangladesh squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (c&wk), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah, Liton Das, Mehidy Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Subashis Roy, Mominul Haque