It came as a surprise when selectors included former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful in the High Performance (HP) squad for a four-day game to be played at the Sheikh Abu Naser stadium in Khulna. The game will start from tomorrow and the squad will be split into two teams – Red team and Green Team.
Ashraful, who last month completed his five-year suspension from international cricket for involvement in match and spot fixing, was named in the Red Team alongside Soumya Sarkar, Afif Hossain and others.
According to chief selector Minhajul Abedin, the inclusion of Ashraful in the HP squad is nothing but a formality as they wanted to see his current status in a match situation.
“This is not for high performance as we made two teams, with few players out injured. It was tough to even form a playing eleven. This is just a formality. Let's see how he does in the match as he is fit enough,” Minhajul, who is currently in Dubai, told The Daily Star over phone yesterday.
However, following Ashraful's completion of suspension, the chief selector had claimed that the 34-year-old batsman did not fit in the current system.
“To be honest, he [Ashraful] does not have a space [in the national pipeline] at this point. He is not attached with the system -- of playing in HP, A team -- so he is far from the national team right now. You need to give a player time to go through the journey and achieve the level,” Minhajul had told a press conference on August 12.
But Ashraful, who scored 11.4 in the recent beep test conducted by the Bangladesh Cricket Board for the players participating in the upcoming National Cricket League, had prompted the selectors to have a look at his performance.
“Let's see, you can't say anything now as his fitness level is good and there are few other aspects involved, not just performance,” said Minhajul.
When asked what the reaction could be from youngsters over Ashraful's inclusion in the HP squad, Minhajul said that it would inspire youngsters watching him play.
Red Team: Mohammad Saif Hassan, Soumya Sarker, Mohammad Ashraful, Afif Hossain, Al-Amin, Mehedi Hasan, Tanvir Islam, Marshal Ayub, Khaled Ahmed, Abu Jayed, Tanbir Haider, Taskin Ahmed, Sanjamul Islam.
Green Team: Imrul Kayes, Mizanur Rahman, Zakir Hasan, Fazle Mahamud, Nurul Hasan, Shadman Islam, Taijul Islam, Al-Amin Hossain, Mahidul Islam, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Ebadot Hossain, Jubair Hossain, Iftekhar Sajjad.