Junaid, Nazimuddin dropped from preliminary squad for SL
Bangladesh batsmen Junaid Siddique and Nazimuddin, who opened in a Test each against West Indies and scored 31 runs together, have been dropped from the preliminary squad of 25 for the forthcoming tour of Sri Lanka. A few recent performers like Marshall Ayub and Shamsur Rahman were named in the squad.
Bangladesh chief selector Akram Khan doesn't anticipate making too many changes to the Test side, but he admitted to the scarce choices for opening batsmen and pace bowlers.
"We don't have too many options [for the openers], and not many have done well in the recent past," Akram said. "We are also on a blind spot with pace bowling, unfortunately. We cannot consider them by what we have seen of them so far. It is very difficult to ascertain a fast bowler's performance by just seeing four overs in the BPL."
Tamim Iqbal hasn't had a regular opening partner in Tests for the last two years. Nazimuddin and Imrul Kayes have played three Tests each while Junaid played just one against West Indies earlier this season. Anamul Haque could get a chance after playing all five ODIs against West Indies, in which he scored a century. The selectors have also kept Shamsur in the mix.
Among the pace bowlers, Rubel Hossain's new-ball partner could be any one out of Shafiul Islam, Abul Hasan, Shahadat Hossain, Nazmul Hossain and Rabiul Islam. Shafiul got back to international cricket recently after a lengthy injury break, while Abul and Shahadat got only a wicket between themselves in the Tests against West Indies.
The Bangladesh middle order has been a settled one for quite a long time with Naeem Islam likely to continue at No. 4 followed by Shakib Al Hasan (pending recovery from shin injury), Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain.
As a result, Akram has all but ruled out any new faces and either one or two of Marshall, Anamul and Mominul Haque are strong cases for inclusion. Marshall has averaged 81.38 in ten first-class matches this season, scoring 1058 runs with four centuries including his highest score of 289 for Central Zone in the Bangladesh Cricket League.
"We haven't thought about new faces because Bangladesh have done well against West Indies recently. I don't have too many options too, except for some competition among the left-arm spinners.
"Marshall has been doing well and is in good form, so this is the right time to pick him. In case of [Anamul Haque] Bijoy and Mominul [Haque], we are keeping them in our mind but we have several players in a few positions," Akram said.
The Test squad is set to be named on either February 22 or 23 for the two-match series which will begin on March 8 in Galle.
Bangladesh preliminary squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Elias Sunny, Ziaur Rahman, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abul Hasan, Jahurul Islam, Shafiul Islam, Anamul Haque, Abdur Razzak, Rubel Hossain, Mominul Haque, Shahriar Nafees, Shahadat Hossain, Nazmul Hossain, Robiul Islam, Sohag Gazi, Naeem Islam, Enamul Haque jnr, Shamsur Rahman, Sabbir Rahman, Marshall Ayub.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent