Bangladesh pick Jubair Hossain for first Test
Jubair Hossain has become the first specialist legspinner to be selected in a Bangladesh Test squad by being named in the 14-man squad for the first Test against Zimbabwe. His selection goes against the recent trend of picking domestic experienced players, as Jubair has played only two first-class matches.
Shahadat Hossain and Marshall Ayub have been recalled in place of Anamul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Imrul Kayes and Robiul Islam from the last Test squad which played against West Indies. Shakib Al Hasan, whose six-month ban was reduced in August, has also been picked in the squad.
Chief selector Faruque Ahmed said that Jubair is being deemed as a bright future prospect, and is being groomed for a Test spot in favourable conditions. Jubair's inclusion was thought of after Sohag Gazi was reported for a suspect action, and subsequently suspended by the ICC for failing the test in Cardiff last month.
Jubair took 11 wickets in the two-match unofficial Test series against Zimbabwe A last month. He first sprung to prominence when the Faruque Ahmed-led selection committee picked him in the preliminary squad for the West Indies tour a few months ago. When Gazi was pulled out of the tour by the BCB, Jubair was one of the front-runners to replace him but Elias Sunny was picked ahead of him.
"With Sohag Gazi not available due to suspension we felt we needed a bit of variation in our bowling and that is why Jubair is in the squad," Faruque said. "He is a bright young prospect and if he is to play then it is always good to start at home. He has the talent in a difficult art and gives the side an interesting option despite his inexperience. The spin-bowling department is always important on our pitches and apart from the legspinner we have two specialist left-arm spinners and the off-breaks of Shuvagata [Hom] and Mahmudullah."
Jubair was delighted about his selection but said that tough work lies ahead of him. "I am excited at being selected," he told ESPNcricinfo. "But there is a long way to go. I am in the 14-man squad but I hope to play against Zimbabwe. I have played against their A side recently and I know some of the Bangladesh players from that series."
Before Jubair, Mohammad Ashraful, Alok Kapali and Raqibul Hasan bowled legspin for Bangladesh. Kapali has Bangladesh's only Test hat-trick out of his six wickets in the format while Ashraful later switched to offspin. Raqibul has one Test wicket. In ODIs, the only legspinner to play for Bangladesh was Wahidul Gani who played only one match, in 1988.
Faruque is also hoping to bank on Shahadat's experience of 35 Tests, as well as Nasir's comeback. Shahadat's last Test was in March last year, and he has taken 26 wickets in 10 first-class matches at an average of 25.07 since then. During the same period, pace bowler Subashis Roy took 28 wickets but Shahadat won the spot, Faruque said, through experience.
Marshall played his last Test against Sri Lanka earlier this year and missed the Test series against West Indies. He has scored one first-class century, 173 for Dhaka Metropolis, since his last Test and averages 34.22. He was made the Bangladesh A captain in the recent one-day series against Zimbabwe A at home.
"Shahadat adds valuable experience and we have been impressed by the work he has put in on his fitness and bowling during the last few months," Faruque said. "He looks motivated and hungry. Nasir Hossain has missed out due to a combination of lack of form and consistency. I am sure he will be back but we still have depth in batting."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84