Soumya, Litton and Shahid earn maiden Test call-ups
Batsmen Soumya Sarkar and Litton Das, and fast bowler Mohammad Shahid have earned maiden Test call-ups after they were picked for the first Test against Pakistan, from April 28 in Khulna. The national selectors also kept faith in Imrul Kayes, Shuvagata Hom and Shahadat Hossain, who had played in Bangladesh's last Test series, against Zimbabwe last November.
Rubel Hossain, who was rested for the lone T20, was part of the squad. However, there was no place for opening batsman Shamsur Rahman, as well as seamers Shafiul Islam and Al-Amin Hossain.
Soumya was a shoe-in after making 175 runs in six World Cup games and 164, including an unbeaten 127, in the Pakistan ODI series. Litton, who was earlier picked in the T20 side but did not play, was rewarded for topping the National Cricket League batting charts with 1024 runs in seven matches at an average of 85.33, including five centuries and three fifties. He also finished as the second-highest run-getter in the Dhaka Premier Division with 686 runs in 16 matches. Shahid is a right-arm seamer who has taken 56 first-class wickets at an average of 32.19. He was the fourth-highest wicket taker among all pace bowlers, taking 18 wickets at an average of 36.11.
BCB chief selector Faruque Ahmed said that Shahid's ability to bowl long spells was what had won him a place in the Test squad. He also said that that Litton's strong domestic form and Soumya's recent form in ODIs had helped them seal their spots.
"The newcomers are deserving of their spots through performances in domestic and international cricket," Faruque said. "Mohammad Shahid is a strong lad capable of bowling long spells and he has been a consistent performer in first class games. Litton has scored heavily in the last couple of seasons while Soumya [Sarkar] has started strongly in ODIs."
With Imrul Kayes having struck 130 in the first innings in final Test against Zimbabwe in Chittagong, Faruque hinted that Soumya may not open if he gets selected in the XI.
"He [Soumya] may not bat in the same position if he gets picked but he can give us a lot of depth in the batting order."
The selectors also showed faith in allrounder Shuvagata Hom despite his returns of 117 in six innings at an average of 23.40. He did not fare better with the ball either, managing only two wickets at an average of 47.
Shahadat Hossain, who played the first Test against Zimbabwe, is currently Bangladesh's highest wicket-taker in Tests among the available pace bowlers. He has taken only 13 first-class wickets this season but by bowling regularly in the Bangladesh nets, he kept himself on the selectors' radar.
Faruque, who didn't speak directly to the media but was quoted by the BCB, said that the selectors preferred to give the players a decent run in the team.
"We prefer to give players a reasonable run in the team and Imrul Kayes keeps his place by virtue of his performance in the last Test series. Shahadat Hossain has bowled very well in the National Cricket League and he has the experience."
"We consider Taijul as one of the best left-arm spin options for us in Tests and Jubair Hossain's leg-spin is a valuable addition to our attack," he said.
Test squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Tamim Iqbal (vice-captain), Imrul Kayes, Litton Das, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Shuvagata Hom, Soumya Sarkar, Taijul Islam, Jubair Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Shahadat Hossain, Mohammad Shahid
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84