Shakib Al Hasan will lead Bangladesh in the first Test against West Indies, ending speculation about his finger injury. Shakib returned to training earlier this week after a month-long rehabilitation programme, following complications with the injury that he sustained in January this year.
Shakib, Soumya Sarkar and 17-year-old offspinner Nayeem Hasan were the inclusions in the Bangladesh Test squad that was trimmed to 13 players from the 15-man squad that had been named against Zimbabwe. Liton Das, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Abu Jayed, Shafiul Islam and Nazmul Islam were all dropped.
Chief selector Minhajul Abedin said that Shakib was fit but needed game time under his belt, while Soumya was picked to resolve Bangladesh’s Test opening conundrum, with Tamim Iqbal still recovering from a side strain.
“He has no physical problems currently, but he is short of match fitness. But since he is a senior player, we think that he is ready,” Minhajul said. “Soumya has done well in the NCL. Our openers have failed in Tests, so we want to give him a chance. Soumya plays fast bowling quite well.”
Soumya effectively replaces Liton who showed glimpses of form in ODIs but has struggled in Test cricket this year. Shanto, Jayed, Shafiul and Nazmul have all been dropped, according to Minhajul, because the selectors wanted a smaller Test squad. These players will be playing in the Bangladesh Cricket League, the first-class tournament which is scheduled to begin next week.
It is, however, particularly chastening for Jayed, who was Bangladesh’s standout bowler July in the West Indies, but is suddenly behind Khaled Ahmed in the selectors’ pecking order.
“[Abu Jayed] Rahi is not really dropped. We may go with one seam bowler, so there’s no point keeping him around the squad. The same goes for [Najmul Hossain] Shanto, Shafiul [Islam] and [Nazmul Islam] Apu,” Minhajul said.
Nayeem, who was a surprise choice in the Bangladesh Test squad last January, has been picked this time for topping the wicket-takers’ charts in the NCL, the first-class tournament that concluded last week. Soumya meanwhile last played Tests more than a year ago.
Squad: Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Mithun, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Syed Khaled Ahmed, Naeem Hasan