Ashraful to lead 17-member squad February 6, 2008

Omar dropped, fit Rasel in for series against South Africa

Cricinfo staff

Mohammad Ashraful and Mashrafe Mortaza get a chance at home to revive Bangladesh' s Test fortunes. © Getty Images

Mohammad Ashraful will lead Bangladesh's 17-man squad in the upcoming series against South Africa. Junaid Siddique and Tamim Iqbal who shared a record 161-run first-wicket partnership in the first Test against New Zealand in January have been named as the openers.

As expected, Javed Omar, the opening batsman, was not selected. Three other players - Tushar Imran, Nazmul Hossain and Mehrab Hossain - were also excluded from the squad that toured New Zealand.

"This decision [to drop Omar] has been taken because we are now looking forward. Tamim [Iqbal] and Zunaed [Siddiqe] both showed their considerable potential in New Zealand and plus Shahriar Nafees is an important player for us as well," the chief selector Rafiqul said.

"There was no reason to make wholesale changes. We announced a 17-member squad because of some injury problems in the team but all 23 players [including the reserves] will be considered for both the Tests and one-day series."

The bowling attack will be led by Mortaza, and includes Shahadat Hossain, Abdur Razzak and Shahadat Hossain, besides allrounders Shakib Al Hasan, and Farhad Reza. In addition, Syed Rasel, the left-arm medium pacer who dislocated his collar bone during a tour game and missed out the series against New Zealand, and his replacement Sajidul Islam, find a spot in the squad.

Bangladesh, who were swept aside 3-0 and 2-0 in the ODI and Test series by New Zealand, will be looking to put up a better performance in the home series against South Africa. They will play two Tests and three ODIs against the visitors and the final squad for the Test series will be named later.

Khaled Mashud, the veteran wicketkeeper, has been named in the reserves, which also includes the fast-medium bowler Dolar Mahmud. Jamie Siddons, the coach, will oversee a camp for the players (excepting the reserves) at the Sher-E-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka from February 9, 2008.

Shariar Nafees, who played in the middle-order in the Test series against New Zealand, has been named as opener for the three-day tour game against South Africa starting from February 17. Nazimuddin and Talha Jubair, both part of the reserves, too get a chance to display their skills in the tour game.

Squad Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Habibul Bashar, Aftab Ahmed, Junaid Siddique, Tamim Iqbal, Shahriar Nafees, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (vice-capt), Shahadat Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim, Sajidul Islam, Shakib Al Hasan, Rajin Saleh, Farhad Reza, Abdur Razzak, Enamul Haque jnr, Mohammed Rafique, Syed Rasel.

Reserves Khaled Mashud, Nazimuddin, Talha Jubair, Dolar Mahmud, Mahmudullah, Rubel Hossain.

Squad for the tour game: Junaid Siddique, Shahriar Nafees, Nazimuddin, Rajin Saleh, Shakib Al Hasan, Aftab Ahmed, Mushfiqur Rahim, Enamul Haque jnr, Sajidul Islam, Talha Jubair, Farhad Reza, Syed Rasel, Roqibul Hassan, Habibul Bashar.