Have Bangladesh chosen the best squad?

Shakib rested, Mahmudullah back in Test squadSaleque Sufi

Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has just announced the 18 member squad for playing two Tests against South Africa scheduled to start at the end of this month in South Africa.

Squad:
Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah, Litton Das, Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Subashis Roy, Mominul Haque.

Also Read - 'Shakib can return on second test if he wishes' says chief selector

The best all-rounder in all formats of the game Shakib Al Hasan requested to grant him leave from Tests and that was entertained. Bangladesh dare appearing in the very difficult South Africa mission without its tried, tested quality all-rounder.

It is understood that no team can afford naming all unwilling horse appearing for a very important Test series on tour in very difficult condition. Needless saying that Shakib is indispensable now. A fully fit three dimensional Shakib brings depth, diversity and quality in the team in bowling, batting and even in fielding.

But life goes on and team Tigers will have to look ahead and try surviving. Talented and experienced all-rounder Mahmudullah returned after remaining in exile during the two Tests home series.

However, another all-rounder Nasir Hossain who just returned in the team has been discarded again. Apart from that the rest of the team has no surprises. Given the wickets, conditions and strength of the opposition a pace heavy unit has been selected.

But top order batting even after return of redoubtable Mahmudullah remains a suspect against quality protean attack on lively wickets. Soumya retained his position and Kayes is also there. It will be acid test for unaccustomed Bangladeshi batsmen confronting Philander, Morkel and Rabada on the expected green top pacey wickets.

In our opinion ignoring experienced Mahmudullah in the home series against Australia was a serious mistake. The decision for discarding Mahmudullah and Mominul was hotly debated and challenged. Mominul forced his way into the squad and proved the point again.

Riyad went to the Caribbean islands for playing in CPL. Bangladesh middle order batting looked fragile minus Riyad and in the ultimate analysis poor middle to late order batting let Bangladesh down in the series. With Riyad in the team alongside Tamim , Mominul , Shakib and Mushfiqur Bangladesh could bat better and may have gone on winning the series.

Why of all persons the axe had to come down on “Poor Man Nasir Hossain” once more? Did not he perform better than few in the two Tests in very difficult conditions? Who sets the performance bar in the team? In the absence of Shakib experience and quality were essential. We are not sure excluding Nasir again is at all a smart decision.

The rest of the squad are automatic choice. We are sure Mominul will bat at three, Mahmudullah at four and Mushfiqur at five in the Tests. We would suggest letting Litton K Das opening the batting in Tests.

If Soumya needs to play at all he should bat at six just above Sabbir. Bangladesh is expected to appear with three pacers – Mustafiz, Taskin/ Rubel and Subashish in the Test series. Taijul or Mehedi would have Raid as the other spinning option.

Needless mentioning here that Tamim, Mushfiqur, Mominul and Mahmudullah have to play out of their skins to take the Tests to the fourth and the fifth days.

Recalling Mahmudullah and including Mominul are the recognitions of mistakes done and absence of Shakib has made the equation easier. Hope Mominul would be slotted in the right position in the batting order.

Bangladesh did not play in South Africa for a long time. The two Tests would be acid tests for team Tiger’s graduation from one level of Test cricket to the other.

Mustafiz, Taskin and may be Subashish have to compete well with Proteas seamers on lively wickets.

Taking a quality right handed top order batsman like Shanto or Mosaddek could be right choice instead of insisting with failed Soumya or Kayes and Nasir should have been retained.