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Bangladesh felt Mustafiz’s absence during their two-Test series against South Africa last month. Pacers Taskin Ahmed and Shoriful Islam got injured during the series, but the Bangladesh Cricket Board couldn’t draft Mustafiz into the squad as the board had already given him the No Objection Certificate to take part in the Indian Premier League.

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Before the forthcoming home Test series against Sri Lanka, which begins in Chattogram on 15 May, Mustafiz’s absence is once again making headlines. Taskin is out of the series with an injury, Shoriful is yet to fully recover and experienced red-ball pacer Abu Jayed has been dropped from the squad.

Mustafiz is not part of the BCB’s red-ball contract. He made himself unavailable from the format, by stating to the board that playing Test cricket while staying inside bio-security bubbles is proving detrimental to his mental health. But now restrictions on movement during Test series have relaxed quite a lot.

Mahmud, a former captain of the Tigers, feels that Mustafiz doesn’t warrant the right to skip formats as his wishes, as that privilege should only be reserved for the senior most cricketers of the team.

“Papon (BCB president Nazmul Hasan) bhai said, that the players can discuss with him about which formats they want to play in. But he intended it for the senior players, not everyone. Right now, if Joy (Mahmudul Hasan) says that I will only play ODIs and not Tests, will that be okay? How old is Mustafiz? How many years has he been playing? He is not Shakib, Tamim, Mashrafe (Bin Mortaza) or Mushfiqur (Rahim), who have given their service for Bangladesh cricket in all three formats. It’s necessary to play for the country.”

Mahmud feels it’s important for the management to have the option to play Mustafiz in Tests to increase the pace bowling depth of the Tigers.

“I want Mustafiz to play Tests. Why shouldn’t he? We don’t have that many pacers. Ebadot (Hossain), Taskin, Shoriful, Khaled, Rahi, is there anyone else after that? Mustafiz is Bangladesh’s best fast bowler. Experience, skill, technique, tactics, in every aspect Mustafiz is the best. If he was here, we could’ve interchanged the bowlers. There are so many games, it’s difficult to continuously play in three formats, and everyone needs some rest.”

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