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Tushar surprise omission from Test squad

CricBD Staff
4 June, 2007

The national selectors once again dumped Tushar Imran when they ignored the middle-order batsman for the Test series in Sri Lanka.

In a surprise move, Tushar -- who looked certain to play in the Test series against India only to be denied for illness after not being picked for the ODIs -- was selected for the latter part of the trip to the island, when Bangladesh will play three one-dayers.

While announcing the 15-member Tests squad and five additional players for the limited-overs series, chief selector Faruque Ahmed told on Monday that Tushar was not considered for the sake of 'team combination'.

Mahmudullah Riyad, a 21-year old off-spinning all-rounder Riyad from Mymensingh, was the only fresh inclusion and will fly to Sri Lanka for the ODIs.

Immediate past captain Habibul Bashar, as expectedly, retained his place in the 15-member Test team while the selectors also kept faith on seaming all-rounder Mohammad Sharif, who was recalled after five years in an emergency situation for the second Test against India.

The selection panel also decided to erase the one-day specialist tag from Abdur Razzak, who got the nod for the Test side ahead of fellow left-arm spinner Enamul Haque.

Mushfiqur Rahim was recalled as a back-up wicketkeeper and middle-order batsman, the choice virtually costing Tushar's place.

It was also surprising, one might call the decision funny too, the way the Faruque Ahmed-led selection panel handled the 23-year old right-hander Tushar.

Faruque came up with a lot of explanations behind the exclusion while speaking at a press conference at Mirpur but hardly sounded convincing.

It was natural the chief selector failed to give a satisfactory answer to why he was discarded without being given a chance against India in the second match.

It can be noted that the selectors had claimed earlier that Tushar, out of the ODI series against India at home, was picked for the Tests because of consistent good form in domestic circuit as well as with the A team.

It looks beyond explanation why the batsman, an 'automatic choice' for the selectors at one stage, has suddenly become the wrong one.

In reply to a volley of questions on the issue, Faruque came up with only one answer: they had to do it thinking on the team combination.

It has been told in different forums that the stylish player from Jessore has been deprived for long because of the all-powerful former coach Dav Whatmore's personal disliking.

Faruque even had to face allegations about damaging Abahani's title charge by picking Tushar during a crucial stage of the Premier Cricket League.
Although Faruque dismissed such claims, no one could find any solid reason behind his exclusion from the Test side when there was a scope to accommodate the batsman in the team inclusive of three openers -- veteran Javed Omar, uncapped Mehrab Hossain and out-of-form Shahriar Nafees.

"We felt a back-up wicketkeeper would be needed considering the conditions (in Sri Lanka) and length of the tour. We could even use Rahim as a specialist batsman, if the situation demands. That's why there was no scope for Tushar. And you know Rajin (Saleh) had a good series against India," explained Faruque.

He also explained why they kept faith on Nafees, who has been going through a too long bad patch.

"We picked up Habibul because of his batting career and for the same reason we feel that Nafees deserves a place. True, he struggled in recent times but we should understand that before the last series he had a tremendous hundred and a fifty against Australia," he added.

Faruque informed that injury of Tapash Baisya forced them to continue with Sharif, the fourth seamer besides vice-captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Shahadat Hossain and Syed Rasel.

"Undoubtedly Tapash would have been our first choice but he has yet to recover from his ankle injury. It would be nice if we had other pacers like Mashrafe and Shahadat but the reality is we have to do with what is available," he said.

"Razzak is basically a one-day bowler but we feel that even he can be useful in Tests after his impressive performance in the shorter-version. We considered Riyad because of his last few months' performance as an all-rounder. The young man's batting and fielding also can boost the side," he added.

Faruque said that he talked with new captain Mohammad Ashraful, who left Dhaka yesterday morning to play the Afro-Asia Cup in India, about the team combination.

"What we believe that the captain should have the voting rights in selection. Only the board can allow that."

The Tigers, under new captain Mohammad Ashraful, will leave Dhaka on June 17 for Colombo for a 39-day trip.

Bangladesh will open their tour with a three-day warm-up game against a local selection from June 20 before the first Test (June 25-29).

TEST SQUAD

Mohammad Ashraful (captain), Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (vice-captain), Habibul Bashar, Javed Omar, Mehrab Hossain, Shahriar Nafees, Rajin Saleh, Shakib Al Hasan, Khaled Mashud, Shahadat Hossain, Syed Rasel, Mohammad Rafique, Abdur Razzak, Mohammad Sharif and Mushfiqur Rahim.

PLAYERS TO JOIN THE ODI SQUAD

Aftab Ahmed, Tamim Iqbal, Tushar Imran, Forhad Reza and Mahmudullah Riyad.






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