Dhaka: Bangladesh have recalled middle-order batsman Mohammad Ashraful for the two Test matches against Pakistan starting on Friday. The other three changes to the squad that faced West Indies last month are vice-captain Mahmudullah, medium-pacer Robiul Islam and batsman Nazimuddin. Imrul Kayes, Raqibul Hasan and Shuvagata Hom were the players dropped from the 15-man party.
Ashraful, 27, was not a part of the ODI team that lost 3-0 to Pakistan, and had been dropped for the Tests against West Indies with coach Stuart Law terming the move as a message that players needed to perform if they wanted to play for the country. Since being axed, Ashraful returned to the domestic circuit and scored a century and three fifties for Dhaka Metropolis in the National Cricket League.
Ashraful’s last notable Test inning was 73 against Zimbabwe in August, but had not scored a half-century in 16 Test innings before that. His form in ODIs has been woeful: his last ODI half-century was in January 2010, since then he has averaged 10.11 in 18 one-day innings with a highest score of 31.
Mahmudullah was recalled after missing the Tests against West Indies with dengue fever, and performed adequately in the ODIs against Pakistan. Robiul had been left out of the previous Test squad because Law felt three medium-pacers would not feature, and the bowler has forced his inclusion on the basis of 11 wickets on Bangladesh A’s tour of the West Indies and a spell of 4 for 39 for Sylhet Divion in the NCL.
Nazimuddin earned his first recall in three years after scoring a century and four fifties in six NCL matches this season. He has replaced Kayes, who made only 53 run three ODIs and 61 in two Tests. Raqibul was dropped after a poor A team tour, while Hom was discarded even though he did not feature against West Indies.
The first Test is from December 9 in Chittagong, while the second gets underway on December 17 in Dhaka.
Bangladesh squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), Mahmudullah (vc), Tamim Iqbal, Shahriar Nafees, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan, Naeem Islam, Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Hossain, Elias Sunny, Shahadat Hossain, Suhrawadi Shuvo, Robiul Islam, Nazimuddin.