The Bangladesh Cricket Board on Monday granted a leave for all-rounder Sakib al Hasan, resting him for the two Test matches in South Africa with an option for him to return to the second Test in Bloemfontein.
Selectors announced a 15-man squad for the two Test matches in the afternoon without Sakib, who handed a formal request on Sunday night for six-month break from Test cricket.
Batsman Mahmudullah was recalled to the side to fill the void left by Sakib while selectors retained both Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes in a top-heavy side that also included Mominul Haque.
BCB’s cricket operations chief Akram Khan said that the decision to give Sakib a break was finalised during a programme at prime minister’s office, where officials gathered to hand over a cheque of Tk two crore for the flood victims.
‘Sakib gave a letter to our chief executive officer asking for a break. After a long thought we decided to leave him out for the two Test matches against South Africa,’ said Akram.
‘But if he wants to comeback for the second Test, he will be included in the team. We kept that option open for him,’ added Akram.
Chief selector Minhajul Abedin admitted that the decision to leave out Sakib was a blow for the team.
‘We still cannot think of a team without Sakib. But he wanted a break and it was granted,’ he said.
‘He was playing for long time in all formats, so needed the rest. Of course without him we will be in the back foot. Still we have to manage it,’ he said.
Minhajul hoped experienced Mahmudullah, who missed the final Test against Sri Lanka in February and two Test matches against Australia for poor form, would help Bangladesh recover the blow somewhat.
‘We included Mahmudllah, because in abroad, where the ball comes first onto the bat he can do well. He is a senior batsman, and an experienced batsman,’ he said.
Minhajul added that he preferred to give out-of-form Imrul Kayes another chance considering his past experience despite him making just 92 runs in last four Test matches at 13.14.
‘We kept Imrul because South Africa tour is challenging. It will be different to our home series against Australia, so we don’t want to put a new player in a risk or ruining his career,’ he said.
‘We gave priority to experience and we will see him [Imrul] in this series. He bats well in square of the wicket, so we are confident he will do well,’ he said.
Pace bowler Rubel Hossain and Subashis Roy also returned to the side but there was no room for Nasir Hossain.
Minhajul revealed that they retained Taijul Islam only because of the absence of Sakib.
‘Our plan was to take just one spinner [alongside Sakib] and five pacers. We have already Miraz [Mehedi Hasan] and we also took Taijul as extra-spinner now,’ he said.
The first Test will be held at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom from September 28 to October 2 while Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein will host the second Test from October 6-10.
Bangladesh will also play three one-day internationals and two Twenty20 games in South Africa during their first tour to the country since 2008.
Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mehedi Hasan, Shafiul Islam, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hossain, Subashis Roy, Mominul Haque.
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