Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan has been ruled out of the first Test of the two-match series against Sri Lanka after testing positive for Covid-19 on May 10. Shakib, who was set to make his Test comeback with the game in Chattogram, returned positive following a PCR and a rapid antigen test.
These tests were made necessary by the medical team of the Bangladesh Cricket Board as part of the health safety protocols in place for the home series. The last thing the BCB think-tank would’ve wanted is for their premier allrounder to go down with a positive test.
Shakib was due to join the side from May 11 and kick-off training for the Test match, starting May 15. But he will now enter a phase of self-isolation and will be retested in due course, as the board and the team management hope to have him recovered in time for the second Test in Dhaka from May 23.
Shakib’s imminent absence for the Chattogram Test will make it five and a half months since his last outing in the Test whites for Bangladesh. The cricketer, whose most recent Test dates back to November last year versus Pakistan at home, skipped the Test series in New Zealand in January and one against South Africa in March due to personal reasons.
The player had earlier expressed concerns around his workload and hinted that he is eyeing a long break from Test cricket to keep himself fresh for ODIs and T20Is with a World Cup each to follow for respective formats. But he took a late u-turn and made himself available for the South African trip, only to be sidelined forcibly after health concerns within his family.
Without Shakib, Bangladesh are set to field a heavily understrength bowling unit for the Lankan Lions, with off-spinner Mehidy Hasan and right-arm seamer Taskin Ahmed out with injuries, too. The team management will now have to do some head-scratching and come up with two adequate replacements, one each in either skill, to fill the Shakib-size hole in the side, something they found too difficult to do in the 2-0 hammering in South Africa.