Senior players Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah are among those recalled for the first two of Bangladesh’s three ODIs against New Zealand in Dhaka next week. Their arrival will help balance the scales considering the selectors have opted to rest a series of other key players ahead of the upcoming World Cup.
Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Hasan Mahmud and Shoriful Islam have all been given a break leading to the possibility of a fairly new-look Bangladesh team taking the field when the series begins next Thursday.
Litton Das will be leading Bangladesh in Shakib’s absence. Shamim Hossain, Afif Hossain and Mohammad Naim were dropped. Soumya Sarkar and Nurul Hasan, and the uncapped trio of Zakir Hasan, Rishad Hossain and Khaled Ahmed, earned call-ups.
“The decision to rest players was taken in consideration of the World Cup in India, which will be a long tournament, and ensuring the mental and physical fitness of the cricketers will be very important,” chief selector Minhajul Abedin said. “The series against New Zealand provides us an opportunity to take a look at some other players as well ahead of this major event.
Bangladesh squad for NZ ODIs
In: Tamim, Soumya, Mahmudullah, Nurul, Zakir, Rishad and Khaled
Out: Shakib, Mushfiqur, Mehidy, Taskin, Mamhud, Shamim, Afif, Shoriful and Naim
“The squad is a blend of experience and youth, and only Zakir, Khaled and Rishad have not featured in ODIs yet. Zakir was very close to playing against Ireland in March before he suffered an unfortunate injury. Khaled has done well in his List A career, and Rishad offers a different dimension to our bowling attack.”
Tamim had announced his retirement from international cricket on July 6, only for the Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina to convince him to reverse his decision the day after. On August 3, Tamim resigned as Bangladesh’s ODI captain while also informing that he would miss the Asia Cup to recover from various injuries.
Mahmudullah returns after last playing in the ODI series against England in March. He was initially rested for the Ireland series at home in March-April, before being ignored for the away series against the same opposition in Chelmsford in May, as well as being left out for the ODIs against Afghanistan, and the Asia Cup.
Sarkar’s inclusion is a big surprise though as he has been out of form for a long time. It was a surprise when he was included in the Bangladesh A team to play the recent Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams tournament, but even playing at that level, he scored only 95 runs in three innings.
Bangladesh are also without Ebadot Hossain, who is out of World Cup reckoning too after undergoing a knee surgery earlier this month. Najmul Hossain Shanto too will miss the New Zealand series through a hamstring injury he picked up after two games in the Asia Cup.
As for the uncapped players called up, all three of Zakir, Rishad and Khaled have represented Bangladesh, although never in ODIs. While opening batter Zakir averages 29.92 after 103 List A games, legspinner Rishad, aged only 21, has played only three List A matches so far. He also made his T20I debut against Ireland earlier this year. Medium-pace bowler Khaled, just days short of turning 31, has 64 List A wickets in 47 games, having already played 12 Tests for his country.
Bangladesh squad: Litton Das (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Anamul Haque, Tawhid Hridoy, Mahmudullah, Nurul Hasan, Mahedi Hasan, Nasum Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Tanzim Hasan Sakib, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Zakir Hasan, Rishad Hossain and Syed Khaled Ahmed
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84