DHAKA: Bangladesh have dropped Mahmudullah while senior batsman Mush­fiqur Rahim, who opted out of the tour of Pakistan this month, returned to the side for the one-off Test against Zimbabwe beginning on Saturday.

Batsman Soumya Sarkar and fast bowlers Rubel Hossain and Al-Amin Hossain have also been axed from the side who suffered an innings and 44-run defeat in the Rawalpindi Test.

Fit-again off-spinner Mehidy Hasan and pace duo Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed returned to the 16-man squad announced on Sunday.

“We felt that Mahmu­dullah needed a break from red ball cricket,” selection panel chairman Minhajul Abedin said in a statement. “Al-Amin has niggles and that’s why we thought he should be given the time to be fully ready for the limited overs matches where he is more important. Rubel is not part of our red-ball plans for the moment.

Mahmudullah has scored only one half-century since making 146 runs against New Zealand in March last year.

Bangladesh are currently on a bad run of form in Tests, losing their last six matches — three of them by an innings margin.

Batsman Yasir Ali Chowdhury and fast bowler Hasan Mahmud are the two uncapped players in the squad.

“I believe we have selected the best possible Test squad under present circumstances. There is a very nice blend of experience and potential,” Minhajul added. ““It is unfortunate that some players had to miss out but our priority has been to ensure balance and continuity.

Dhaka hosts the first Test and Zimbabwe will also play three One-day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals.

Meanwhile senior Zimbabwe batsman Brendan Taylor has said his side’s performance in the recent series against Sri Lanka would motivate them to do well against Bangladesh.

Zimbabwe, playing their first Test series in more than a year, pushed Sri Lanka hard in two home matches in January before narrowly going down 0-1. They lost the first Test, and then an unbeaten second-innings century from Kusal Mendis denied them a series levelling-win in the second Test.

“We have had two good Test matches that went five days against Sri Lanka. We took a lot of positives from that. Hopefully, we can carry that on to the first Test [against Bangladesh],” Tay­lor told reporters at Dhaka airport late on Saturday.

“Bangladesh have always been very difficult to... [beat] here. We know what we are up against... But we look forward to it,” said the 34-year-old Taylor.

Despite Bangladesh’s wretched run in Test cricket, Taylor warned that would not give his side any leverage.

“I think they always play well at home. That’s their comfort zone, where they thrive... and always have a good record,” he said.

Batsman Craig Ervine will lead Zimbabwe in the Bangladesh Test, with regular skipper Sean Williams missing the game to be with his family for the birth of his child.

Bangladesh squad: Mominul Haque (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Saif Hassan, Najmul Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed, Nayeem Hasan, Ebadot Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mehidy Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Yasir Ali.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2020