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Malinga farewell, one that could have been of Mashrafe

  • Published at 10:54 pm July 26th, 2019
Malinga
Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga smiles as he takes to the field during Bangladesh's innings in Colombo Friday AFP

Alike to Lasith Malinga, Mashrafe bin Mortaza had also wished to bow out from the game in front of the home crowd

Since my arrival in Colombo and whilst going to places related to cricket in the island, one discussion has been common – the farewell of the county’s pace legend Lasith Malinga. 

The right-arm pacer is all set to hang his boots for good in ODIs. 

And the enthusiasm was evident walking into the R Premadasa Stadium Friday for the first of the three-match ODI series between Bangladesh and host Sri Lanka.

Huge boards and banners in honor of “Slinga” all around the venue said “Our Slinga, Our Pride” or “Thank you Malinga”. 

The stands were packed to the rafters by the time Sri Lanka reached 28 overs after they batted first, something that has been in news in the island – the tickets for the game were sold out. 

The team and the SLC have their own plans to say good bye to the legend.

According to members of the Sri Lanka team, namely captain Dimuth Karunaratne, they had wanted Malinga to remain, if not for a few years but at least for this series.

But the 35-year old thought it better to make way for new talents to come into the fold.

Having followed Bangladesh cricket for some time now, let it be for the profession for the past 10 years or a fan before that, I was quickly made to think of the perspective that could have been of or with Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza.

His leadership over the past four or five years has been unparallel to any Bangladesh captain in ODIs, topped with his performance with the ball. 

The right-arm veteran pacer had slowly emerged as an indomitable spirit for the Tigers, with many hailing him as the King. 

But as it happened over the past two and a half months, he had a drastic fall in performance and of course, his image. 

Such was the result of the enthusiastic supporters, they wanted immediate retirement of Mashrafe.

Alike to Malinga, Mashrafe had also wished to bow out from the game in front of the home crowd. 

But the atmosphere that has been prevalent at R Premadasa in the case of Malinga, it is highly doubt if that will be the case for Mashrafe.

The Bangladesh ODI skipper, who was ruled out from the Sri Lanka series due to injury, till date had several occasions where his retirement was highly spoken of. 

The first had come when he joined politics and eventually got elected as a Member of the Parliament. 

Then right after the election, it was in the series at home against the West Indies last December when the fans thought he would call it a day.

But Mashrafe decided to delay the occasion and during the World Cup 2019, he wished to represent the country in the world event for one last time. 

And then in between all the criticism in the World Cup, he once again delayed his decision, brushing aside what many thought could have been best for him, sign off at Lord’s as Bangladesh played their last league game, against Pakistan.  

Having missed out on the Sri Lanka series, chances of Mashrafe calling it a day from the game does not look it will happen in near future. 

Both the BCB and Mashrafe had wanted the occasion to take place at home but Bangladesh do not have ODI games or series until the first quarter of 2020.

The Tigers following the Sri Lanka series will host Afghanistan at home in a T20I series, followed by the tour of India in October-November, which consists only Test and T20I cricket, none of which Mashrafe plays. 

In March 2020, BCB is mulling arranging a series between Asia XI and World XI but that is also going to be in T20I format.

So the time of when Mashrafe will be seen for the last time remains uncertain. 

While Sri Lanka have been busy organizing a send-off for Malinga, with Mashrafe the case looks different unless the BCB arranges an ODI series out of the blue. 

Then again, there is also another angle of the story, Bangladesh cricket does not have the culture of getting the players a “proper retirement”. 

With all the ifs and buts, will it be then that Mashrafe on one fine day would call an end to his 18-year long international career in a simple press conference at the BCB media center?

1ST ODI

SRI LANKA INNINGS            R    B

Fernando c Soumya b Shafiul         7    13

Karunaratne c Mustafizur b Miraz    36    37

Kusal c Mustafizur b Soumya         111    99

Mendis c Mushfiq b Rubel         43    49

Mathews c Sabbir b Mustafizur     48    52

Thirimanne c Soumya b Mustafizur     25    30

Thisara c Soumya b Shafiul         2    3

De Silva c Sabbir b Shafiul         18    12

Malinga not out            6    6

Pradeep not out            0    0    

Extras (lb 1, nb 1, w 16)        18 

Total (50 Overs)            314/8 

Fall Of Wickets

1-10 (Fernando), 2-107 (Karunaratne), 3-207 (Kusal), 4-212 (Mendis), 5-272 (Thirimanne), 6-276 (Thisara), 7-302 (Mathews), 8-309 (De Silva)

Bowling

Shafiul 9-0-62-3, Miraz 9-0-56-1, Rubel 9-0-54-1, Mosaddek 7-0-45-0, Mustafizur 10-0-75-2, Soumya 5-0-17-1, Mahmudullah 1-0-4-0

BANGLADESH INNINGS        R    B

Tamim b Malinga            0    5

Soumya b Malinga            15    22

Mithun lbw b Pradeep        10    21

Mushfiq c Mendis b Pradeep        67    86

Mahmudullah    c sub b Kumara    3    10

Sabbir c Fernando b De Silva        60    56

Mosaddek run out (Mendis)        12    16

Miraz c Mendis b De Silva        2    5

Shafiul b Pradeep            2    9

Rubel not out                6    6

Mustafizur c Thisara b Malinga    18    14

Extras (lb 4, w 24)            28 

Total (41.4 Overs)            223 all out 

Fall Of Wickets

1-1 (Tamim), 2-30 (Mithun), 3-30 (Soumya), 4-39 (Mahmudullah), 5-150 (Sabbir), 6-182 (Mosaddek), 7-187 (Miraz), 8-199 (Mushfiq), 9-200 (Shafiul), 10-223 (Mustafizur)

Bowling

Malinga 9.4-2-38-3, Pradeep 9-1-51-3, Thisara 6-0-36-0, Kumara 7-0-45-1, De Silva 10-0-49-2

Sri Lanka won by 91 runs