Opener Nafees Iqbal returned to the national fold after a long lay-off as the selectors named a 24-member preliminary squad for the upcoming Test and one-day series against New Zealand and November?s South Africa tour on Sunday.
Elder brother of fellow opener Tamim Iqbal, Nafees last played for the national team in the Test series against Sri Lanka in 2005. Bangladesh?s famous five-wicket victory over Australia at Cardiff was his last ODI.
?We had no doubt about his class. And he showed his intent for the national team comeback smashing five fifties in the Super League phase of Dhaka Premier Cricket League. But at that time we could not take him back in the squad for poor his fitness,? chief selector Rafiqul Alam told.
?Fitness will be needed for him to get into the final squad,? he added.
The call-up was so unexpected to Nafees that he could not recognise chief selector Alam when he got the phone call last evening, revealed the chief selector. ?I wanted to know whether he was ready to play and the moment he said yes, I asked him to pack up and catch the Dhaka-bound flight,? he said.
The chief selector hoped Nafees will solve the persisting opening problem, a problem that has been compounded following the departure of Shahriar Nafees and Nazim Uddin, who along with 12 other players have joined the Indian Cricket League.
If he fails to make it to the final squad, the selectors will be looking to Imrul Kayes, one of the five GP-BCB National Academy players called into to the preliminary squad. The inclusion of Kayes meant there was no room for veteran Javed Omar, who was widely tipped to return to the Test squad.
?Since we have already Tamim and Junaed besides Nafees and Kayes, we could not accommodate Javed,? said the chief selector. It has been speculated that coach Jamie Siddons, who returned to Dhaka on Sunday and joined the selection meeting was against taking Javed.
Experienced players Rajin Saleh and Tushar Imran were also recalled into the 24-member squad, which will start practising at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium from today. Five Academy players ? Imrul Kayes, Shamsur Rahman, Nayeem Islam, Sohrawordi Shuvo and Mahbubul Alam ? will join the camp on September 27.
On the opening day, there will be routine fitness test, which is believed to be the key for a number of players like Nafees, Roqibul Hassan, Shahadat Hossain and Mushfiqur Rahim to get a place in the squad.
The final squad will be announced after the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays.
Squad: Tamim Iqbal, Junaed Siddique, Mohammad Ashraful, Roqibul Hassan, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehrab Hossain (Jr), Mushfiqur Rahim (wicketkeeper), Mashrafee bin Murtaza, Abdur Razzak, Shahadat Hossain, Syed Rasel, Nazmul Hossain, Mahmudullah, Dollar Mahmud, Nafees Iqbal, Rajin Saleh, Tushar Imran, Enamul Haque (Jr), Imrul Kayes, Shamsur Rahman, Nayeem Islam, Sohrawordi Shuvo, Mahbubul Alam and Sahagir Hossain (wicketkeeper).