Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh allrounder, has not been included in the 15-man squad for the World Cup. Mortaza had injured his right knee while playing club cricket in Dhaka in December and was striving to recover in time for the tournament. He had begun bowling off a short run-up during net sessions in the last few days but the selectors decided against including him in the campaign. Shakib Al Hasan was named captain of the squad and Tamim Iqbal will be his deputy.
"There is little chance that Mortaza will be fit before the World Cup," chief selector Rafiqul Alam told AFP, adding that coach Jamie Siddons supported this assessment. "Mortaza, however, has the chance to be included in the team later if he fully recovers and an opportunity arises."
Mortaza's absence is a blow to Bangladesh but they have enjoyed a string of positive results under Shakib recently, including beating New Zealand 4-0 in October 2010 and Zimbabwe 3-1 in their most recent outing in December.
The doubt over Mortaza's selection was the only major question ahead of the announcement. And though his exclusion effectively means that Mortaza won't be part of the World Cup, Siddons was optimistic. "He [Mortaza] is on track with his rehab. He was supposed to bowl today, bowl off a full run-up at the end of the month in eight to ten days," Siddons had told Daily Star the day before the squad was announced.
"We definitely want him to be fit. If the selectors don't pick him, and if he's fit by the first match, we can use him as a replacement in the World Cup. There are a few good reasons for him to bowl. I expect him to be fit by the start of the World Cup. I want him in the team, I want a fit Mashrafe."
The Bangladesh physiotherapist, Michael Henry, had said Mortaza had "responded well and there were no negative repercussions after his bowling stint."
Mortaza described his exclusion "as the most painful day" of his life. "I was 100% confident of regaining my fitness," Mortaza told reporters. "However, this is life and I am quite accustomed to it.
"I respect their decision and you can say this is just bad luck."
Bangladesh will play the tournament opener against India in Dhaka on February 19 after which they play their remaining group games at home.
Squad: Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Shahriar Nafees, Raqibul Hasan, Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim, Naeem Islam, Mahmudullah, Abdur Razzak, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Nazmul Hossain, Suhrawadi Shuvo.