Ashraful recalled for Zimbabwe T20s
Former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful and opening batsman Junaid Siddique have been recalled for the unofficial Twenty20 tri-series against Zimbabwe and South Africa next month after reasonable performances in Bangladesh Premier League. They replaced Nazimuddin and Jahurul Islam, both of whom were in the top-order during the Asia Cup in March.
The Akram Khan-led selection panel also left out Shahadat Hossain and Imrul Kayes and included allrounders Farhad Reza and Ziaur Rahman. The selectors have also retained uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman Anamul Haque and fast bowler Abul Hasan, who replaced Shafiul Islam midway through the Asia Cup after Shafiul had hurt his shoulder.
This season, Ashraful and Junaid have batted like they used to in the early part of their careers in the Twenty20 format. Ashraful has the most runs in T20Is for Bangladesh and was the second highest scorer among country's batsmen in the BPL with 258 runs at a strike-rate of 112.66 including a fifty. Junaid scored 238 runs in the BPL and had been in good form in first-class cricket. He played his last T20I in August 2009 against West Indies.
"Junaid [Siddique] has a very good reputation as a Twenty20 player and most importantly, he played well in BPL and in the later part of the National Cricket League," Akram said.
"Ashraful also looked good in the domestic competition as he always does. It is also true that he cannot fulfill our expectations, but we want to keep faith in him because he is a very good option for Twenty20 cricket," he added.
Ashraful is currently playing for Blackheath Club in the Kent Premier League and will return to the country on June 8.
But many will closely follow how Ziaur steps up to the bigger stage in his first recall since being named in the provisional squad for the inaugural World Twenty20 five years ago. A 25-year-old allrounder, Ziaur's medium-pace bowling has been overshadowed by his big-hitting capabilities.
Ziaur tapered off during the intervening period but has had a much better season for Khulna, his first-class side, before making important top-order contributions for Chittagong Kings in the BPL. In the country's top one-day league, the Dhaka Premier League, Ziaur has been instrumental in Old DOHS Sports Club's stay at the top of the table with some quick runs during the Powerplays.
Imrul Kayes could consider himself unlucky as he has had very few chances since being sidelined during the Asia Cup. He had made it into the squad after finding some form in domestic cricket but lost out to Nizamuddin as Tamim Iqbal's opening partner. Now Imrul, Nizamuddin and Jahurul have been cast aside.
"[Jahurul Islam] Omi is unlucky because as a back-up wicketkeeper-batsman [Anamul Haque] Bijoy impressed us the most. Bijoy has been in good touch and performed well in all levels of domestic cricket. He is a good prospect," Akram said. "On the other hand Imrul [Kayes] is a good opening batsman but he is suited for the 50-overs game."
It would be the first opportunity for skipper Mushfiqur Rahim and the team management, led by newly-appointed coach Richard Pybus, to assess resources in the Twenty20 format. Akram too sees this as the first of three opportunities to put together a balanced line-up for the ICC World Twenty20s in September.
"We have good opportunity to find out the right combination for the Twenty20 World Cup. We are scheduled to play in Zimbabwe, Trinidad & Tobago and Ireland and thought we are not in favour of making changes, we always want to recognise performances," Akram said.
Bangladesh arrive in Harare on June 13 and take on Zimbabwe in the first game of the tournament on June 17.
Squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), Mahmudullah (vice-capt), Tamim Iqbal, Junaid Siddique, Anamul Haque, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Abdur Razzak, Elias Sunny, Mashrafe Mortaza, Farhad Reza, Nazmul Hossain, Ziaur Rahman, Abul Hasan