Bangladesh wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim on Friday gave a timely reminder of his form with his first hundred in the ongoing Bangladesh Cricket League amid criticism and confusion regarding his inclusion in the national team for the forthcoming Zimbabwe Test.
Mushfiq made 140 off just 157 balls for BCB North Zone against Islami Bank East Zone in Cox’s bazaar on the opening day of their third round match.
But despite showing form in the match and Bangladesh looking to shake things up after suffering another embarrassing innings defeat against Pakistan in the first Test in Rawalpindi, Mushfiq’s inclusion in the side was not certain.
Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo had previously shown disinterest in breaking the team combination after the first Pakistan Test by including Mushfiq in the playing XI for the Zimbabwe Test, only to field a side without him against Pakistan in the second Test in April.
Chief selector Minhajul Abedin had also asked the veteran right-handed batsman to perform in the BCL after fully recovering from his hamstring injury to earn his place back in the side.
Mushfiq responded to the challenge with a commanding century, but the BCB still was not too eager to include him in one-off Test against Zimbabwe, starting from February 22-26 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
The selectors have now reportedly told Mushfiq that he will have to travel with the national team to Pakistan for the third and final stage of their tour, if he wants to play in the Zimbabwe Test.
Mushfiq, earlier, took his name off the Pakistan series claiming that he wasn’t convinced about security in Pakistan.
But after his national team-mates toured the country twice in quick succession and all their matches happened without a single security glitch, Mushfiq’s fears have no solid ground now, felt a number of board officials.
The Bangladesh team will travel to Pakistan in April to play a one-off one-day international match and the second Test of the two-match series to end the tour, which began in January.
Bangladesh were likely to drop veteran middle-order batsman Mahmudullah from the Test side, after his repeated failures in the format and him failing to show proper temperament to play in the longer format.
Mushfiq could have been the obvious replacement for Mahmudullah and bring in some much needed experience in the fragile middle order, but his inclusion in the side remains in the balance, as the 32-year old was yet to budge from his initial stance of not wanting to tour Pakistan for any match.
In the same match, off-spinner Nayeem Hasan claimed a remarkable 8-107 for the East Zone, to make a strong claim for his return to the playing XI.
Nayeem toured Pakistan as part of the 14-man Bangladesh squad for the first Test but was left out from the team, as the management wanted to play an extra pacer in place of him.
The 19-year old was likely to be included in the paying XI in the Zimbabwe Test, as fellow off-spinner Mehedi Hasan was yet to prove his form after returning from injury, bowling just one over for BCB South Zone in his first match in the running BCL on Friday against Walton Central Zone, after getting dismissed for a duck.
Selectors were also likely to take in an extra spinner in home conditions, making Nayeem the most likely partner of Taijul Islam in the Dhaka Test.
After the opening day of BCL penultimate round, East Zone were trailing North Zone by 269 runs in the first innings, ending the day on 3-2 in just 4.1 overs after Nayeem’s brilliance kept North to 272 in their first innings despite Mushfiq’s century.
In the other match, Central Zone were bundled out for just 235 in their first innings despite Marshall Ayub scoring 116 and South Zone reached 29-2 at stumps in their reply, still trailing Central by 206 runs.
Stumps, Day 1
North Zone v East Zone
North Zone 1st innings 272 all out 82.4 overs (Mushfiq 140, Naeem 31; Nayeem 8-107) v East Zone 1st innings 3-2 in 4.1 overs
Central Zone v South Zone
Central Zone 1st innings 235 all out in 82.2 overs (Marshall 116, Mustafiz 30 not out; Mahedi 3-78, Shafiul 2-24, Nasum 2-51, Razzak 2-62) v South Zone 1st innings 29-2 in 9 overs
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