B’desh drop Bashar

Chittagong, February 28:

Bangladesh dropped former skipper Habibul Bashar on Thursday to include middle-order batsman Rajin Saleh for the second Test against South Africa, starting on Friday in Chittagong.

Announcing the 12-man squad, Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful said the change was prompted by the five-wicket loss in the first Test, when the hosts performed impressively with the ball but did not reach 200 runs in either innings. “Batting is our headache,” Ashraful said. “Our main target is to improve the batting”.

Bashar has played all but two of Bangladesh’s 52 Tests since they were granted Test status in 2000. He has not scored a half-century since 2005. “Though he is experienced, he is suffering from a lack of runs,” Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons said. The squad includes three opening batsmen — Tamim Iqbal, Shahriar Nafees and Junaid Siddique — while Saleh and Aftab Ahmed will join Ashraful in the middle-order.

Fast bowler Mashrafe bin Mortaza and first-Test star Shahadat Hossain would lead the attack, with spinners Mohammad Rafique, Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan also included. Mushfiqur Rahim is the wicketkeeper.

South Africa, who are yet to name their squad, looked in danger of a shock defeat in the first Test before captain Graeme Smith led a strong second innings performance with the bat, chasing down a winning target of 205.