Fast bowler Rubel Hossain has replaced the injured Shahadat Hossain for the only Test against India, beginning on June 10 in Fatullah. As this was the only change in Bangladesh's 14-man squad, questions lingered on the batsman-heavy combination.
Rubel was ruled out of the second Test against Pakistan last month with a Grade 1 left-side strain after he felt discomfort while bowling in the first Test. His replacement at the time, Shahadat, twisted his right knee after bowling just two balls in the second Test, which ruled him out for six months. Rubel was passed fit last week along with Tamim Iqbal (knee), Shakib Al Hasan (shin bone), Mushfiqur Rahim (finger) and Shafiul Islam (hand).
Mushfiqur, too remains a wicketkeeping doubt though chief selector Faruque Ahmed said they are hopeful he will be fit in time for the India Test. He also said that they selected 14 players for the first Test instead of 13, at the behest of the BCB's cricket operations committee. "We have seven days before the first Test," Faruque said. "I won't say that Mushfiqur won't play but it was important to keep a back-up. We prefer having a second wicketkeeper-batsman. Litton [Das] was in the squad for the Pakistan series.
"The cricket operations committee asked us to take 14 players. We planned to take 13 but there is no domestic cricket at the moment, so it was thought that one boy can stay with the team."
The more pressing matter was the continued selection of Shuvagata Hom, who batted at No 8 and bowled harmless off-spin against Zimbabwe and in both Tests against Pakistan. There is still doubt about his role in the team, because he has mainly earned his keep as a batsman in the domestic arena but has been handy as a bowler during the 2014-15 season.
Faruque said that Shuvagata is being considered as the second-best offspinner in the country behind Sohag Gazi, who, they feel, still needs time to get attuned to his new action after he was allowed to bowl last February.
"We haven't been able to achieve a desired bowling attack in Test cricket. We don't have many options when it comes to offspinners. We had Sohag Gazi who got banned for his bowling action. He has batted and bowled well in domestic cricket but we want to pick him only when he is used to his new bowling action.
"Shuvagata is our second-best offspinner. He got nine wickets in the last BCL match so he is our favoured choice among the offspinners," Faruque said. "It is important to have variety in the bowling attack. We have left-arm spinners in the team so we kept an offspinner. It is not necessary that he will play but it becomes easier to pick him in the XI if he is in the squad."
Regarding legspinner Jubair Hossain, Faruque said that he was picked after being recommended by captain Mushfiqur and coach Chandika Hathurusingha. He added that he was not aware of reports that the captain and coach went to BCB president Nazmul Hassan to push for Jubair.
"We select the team after discussing with the team management. The coach and captain had made a strong recommendation about him. They have a plan with him. We have included him as a result. I don't know if they [captain and coach] went to him [BCB president] or not. We had a meeting three-four days before the team was announced."
Faruque admitted that their strength lay in their batting, although they picked seven batsmen instead of eight in the likely XI to play against India, and that their current bowling attack may not yet be well-equipped to take 10 wickets in Tests.
"I feel that the bowling attack we have in Test cricket, it won't be realistic to say that we have the ability to take 10 wickets. We are improving, but our main strength is batting. We should pick a team which can't lose at home. We will discuss this thought process with the team management. I think playing seven batsmen is good enough. Mushfiqur and Shakib are allrounders."