Bangladesh have brought back Mashrafe Mortaza and Talha Jubair into their 13-man squad for the forthcoming two-Test series against India. Habibul Bashar has been retained as captain but Alok Kapali has been dropped after some weak performances against New Zealand.
Mortaza last played a Test in November 2003, when he took 4 for 83 against England, before being ruled out by a knee injury. He has since recovered completely, and has been impressive in domestic games this season. Jubair's inclusion was more surprising as he hasn't made much of an impact since returning from a back injury. However, Faruque Ahmed, Bangladesh's chief selector, indicated the reasoning behind the move: "We have considered our opponents' strengths and the condition of the pitch. We thought pacers could be more effective than the spinners against the Indian batting line-up," he told the Daily Star, a Bangladesh newspaper. "We have also asked for a hard and bouncy track which also influenced our decision to keep three quick bowlers. Talha is a good Test bowler and we believe he can be effective in this series."
Faruque cautioned, though, that the team management was anxious to avoid more injuries to those two bowlers: "We don't want to see another prolonged injury absence of these two. We are very careful about them." If Bangladesh decide to play only two seamers, Mortaza and Tapash Baisya, then Mohammad Rafique and Manjural Islam Rana, the left-arm spinners, will both get an opportunity.
The selectors also decided to name Khaled Mashud as Bashar's deputy. Mashud, the wicketkeeper, had been removed from captaincy after Bangladesh's disastrous 2003 World Cup, but has won back the selectors' favour after impressive displays of late. Talking about the decision, Reazuddin Al Mamun, the chairman of the Bangladesh Cricket Board's media committee, said: "The board had removed him as captain after the World Cup and he had some disciplinary problems at that time. But we are not rigid. We have observed Mashud and he seems to have overcome his negative traits. We also considered his bright performances in recent time."
There was also a rap on the knuckles for Rajin Saleh, the previous vice-captain. "We had high expectations regarding Rajin's leadership quality but unfortunately he failed to deliver," Faruque explained. Saleh retains his place in the squad, though.
The first Test starts at Dhaka on Thursday.
Squad Nafis Iqbal, Javed Omar, Habibul Bashar (capt), Mohammad Ashraful, Rajin Saleh, Aftab Ahmed, Mushfiqur Rahman, Khaled Mashud (wk), Mohammad Rafique, Tapash Baisya, Mashrafe Mortaza, Talha Jubair, Manjural Islam Rana.