Talukdar, Abul picked for Pakistan ODIs; Imrul dropped
Uncapped batsman Rony Talukdar and Abul Hasan have been included in Bangladesh's 14-man squad for the first two ODIs against Pakistan. The selectors dropped Imrul Kayes, Taijul Islam and Shaiful Islam from the World Cup squad.
Talukdar is an opening batsman who was selected for his stellar form this season while pace bowler Abul replaced Shafiul. Abul has played five ODIs since his debut in 2012, the last of which was against Zimbabwe last December.
Imrul made just nine runs in three innings at the World Cup, while left-arm spinner Taijul played only against New Zealand, with figures of 0 for 58. Shafiul, who did not play a single World Cup match, is recuperating from a hand injury. Anamul Haque is expected to complete his recovery from the right shoulder injury in another two weeks while Al-Amin Hossain, who was sent home from Australia on disciplinary grounds, found a place in the BCB XI squad for the practice match against Pakistan on April 15 in Fatullah.
Talukdar was the highest run-scorer in this season's Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League, the country's leading domestic one-day competition. He made 714 runs for Prime Doleshwar Sporting Club with two hundreds and three fifties, averaging 51 in 16 innings. In the National Cricket League, Bangladesh's first-class tournament, he was the fourth-highest run-scorer with 777 runs at an average of 70.63, featuring three hundreds and one fifty.
He was in a tight race with another opening batsman, Litton Das, who was NCL's top-scorer with 1024 runs at an average of 85.33 with five hundreds. He was also the second-highest run-scorer in the Dhaka Premier League but chief selector Faruque Ahmed acknowledged that it was a tight call between the two in-form openers. He said that Talukdar got the nod because of more domestic experience, having made his debut in 2008.
"We spent a lot of time discussing Rony and Litton," Faruque said. "Rony is ahead of Litton in terms of experience. He has had only one bad season in the last five-six years. We felt that Rony is ahead. Litton is almost ready, and is likely to be in the squad of any of the other formats.
"Rony has been in the Under-19s and it took him a number of years to reach this stage. He can play shots all around the wicket. It is important to give opportunities to players who are in form."
Abul's selection, however, was surprising considering his performance in the current season, after having returned from an injury layoff. He has played 14 List A matches including two in the ongoing Bangladesh Cricket League. He has taken three wickets in the two BCL matches and collected nine wickets in 12 matches in the Dhaka Premier Division at an average of 36.66. He has taken seven wickets in three first-class matches.
Faruque said that Abul was picked ahead of the other pace bowlers due to his batting ability, but admitted that he still has a lot to prove at international level. He added that Al-Amin was not considered due to ordinary form since returning home from the World Cup.
"We wanted to pick Shafiul but he had a hand operation so we couldn't keep him in consideration," Faruque said. "Abul Hasan hasn't quite fulfilled his potential as a bowler in international cricket so we want to give him an opportunity. His batting also adds some value to the team.
"Al-Amin was dropped due to performance. He hasn't done much of note in domestic cricket after coming back from the World Cup."
After coach Chandika Hathurusingha spoke about his frustration regarding squad selection before and after the World Cup, Faruque was asked whether he had consulted the coach and captain before finalising the team. Hathurusingha had even named legspinner Jubair Hossain as someone who should have been in the World Cup squad. But Jubair was not considered for the ODI squad this time too.
"We have spoken to the coach and captain," Faruque said. "I have communicated with the coach over e-mail. We even spoke to him about his preferences in the squad for the practice match.
"Conditions and opposition are important factors. Jubair impressed against Zimbabwe, he is a talented bowler. But we didn't feel he would be effective against Pakistan in ODIs. The Test series is coming up. We have picked a left-arm spinner. Nasir has also been bowling well off late. It helps when a batsman is bowling effectively. Taijul has the Test series to look forward to."
Meanwhile, offspinner Sohag Gazi was picked in the BCB XI side for the practice match. It is the first time he has been selected in a representative side since he was suspended due to an illegal bowling action in October, which was cleared on February 7.
Pakistan will play three ODIs in Bangladesh, starting April 17 in Mirpur.
Bangladesh ODI squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Shakib Al Hasan (vice-capt), Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Rony Talukdar, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Abul Hasan, Rubel Hossain, Arafat Sunny
BCB XI squad for practice match: Nasir Hossain (capt), Imrul Kayes, Rony Talukdar, Litton Das, Mominul Haque, Shuvagata Hom, Sohag Gazi, Al-Amin Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Jubair Hossain, Taijul Islam, Abul Hasan, Muktar Ali, Mohammad Shahid
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84