Left-arm spinner Enamul Haque jnr has returned to the Bangladesh Test squad after more than three years following his selection in the 15-man squad to tour Sri Lanka next month. Seamer Robiul Islam and batsman Jahurul Islam have also been recalled, while Mominul Haque has made it to the Test squad for the first time.
The major name that is missing is Shakib Al Hasan, out injured and about to undergo surgery to correct a shin injury. Elias Sunny was not included while Junaid Siddique and Nazimuddin were not in the 25-man preliminary squad, which was announced on February 18.
Enamul and Mominul have been taken to replace Shakib, according to chief selector Akram Khan who opted for prior international experience when replacing the allrounder.
Enamul has taken 105 first-class wickets in the last two seasons, the highest in the National Cricket League this season. His last Test appearance was in a Bangladesh win, and where he took six wickets. But he made way for a three-man pace attack against India thereafter, though he was in the Test squad, and indifferent ODI form had him excluded for the next three years. This time he was picked ahead of Mosharraf Hossain and Saqlain Sajib, left-arm spinners who have also done well this season.
In the case of Mominul, it was his recent ODI experience against West Indies which won him a place for a possible middle-order spot. He pushed aside Marshall Ayub, the season's most prolific batsman in first-class cricket, Akram saying it was a "50-50 call".
"This was a tough selection, because we had to pick two players to replace Shakib," Akram said. "Enamul won the left-arm spinner's position ahead of Mosharraf Hossain and Saqlain Sajib. He is in form and has Test experience. Mominul was also a tough call but we need a left-hander in the middle order, so Marshall Ayub, despite his two double-hundreds, misses out."
"I have spoken to Marshall on the phone, told him why he wasn't taken this time. But the door is still open for him, he should continue to perform as he has been. It is unfortunate that we had to leave him out."
Jahurul returns to the squad after playing three Tests in 2010, but he has played ODI cricket recently. Both he and Robiul have been kept as additional options, although the former has a good chance for a place in the top order, said Akram. "He [Jahurul] could be one of the top three with Tamim [Iqbal] and [Shahriar] Nafees.
"Robiul has trained in the National Cricket Academy during the BPL and he has played in the BCL. But we are not sure about Shafiul Islam, and in general we are facing a challenge to form a pace attack," he said.
The two-Test series in Sri Lanka will be Mushfiqur Rahim's first away Tests as captain after he took over in October, 2011. He will lead the middle order, which will include Naeem Islam, Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain while it is now likely that Anamul and Jahurul will battle for the position of the other opener with Tamim Iqbal. Shahriar Nafees' BPL performance saved him a place in the squad after an indifferent showing in the Tests against West Indies.
Offspinner Sohag Gazi is also going to be a part of the first overseas Test series, and will be an automatic choice after an impressive start to his career late last year, but the pace attack will have to be assembled in Sri Lanka as only Rubel Hossain looks like a first-choice.
Bangladesh will begin the series with a three-day match against Sri Lanka Development Emerging Team at Matara from March 3 to 5, before the Test series, which begins in Galle on March 8. The second Test will be played in Colombo from March 16.
Squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), Mahmudullah (vice-capt), Tamim Iqbal, Shahriar Nafees, Anamul Haque, Naeem Islam, Nasir Hossain, Sohag Gazi, Abul Hasan, Rubel Hossain, Enamul Haque, Jahurul Islam, Mominul Haque, Shahadat Hossain, Robiul Islam.