The veteran cricketer is set to return to the national side for the first time since the World Cup 2019 in England and Wales
All the focus has been on right-arm pacer Mashrafe bin Mortaza ahead of the three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe, set to start at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium Sunday.
The veteran cricketer is set to return to the national side for the first time since the World Cup 2019 in England and Wales.
Mashrafe reached Sylhet Friday afternoon, along with opener Tamim Iqbal, and attended the first training session ahead of the ODI series.
The pacer has been out of action since July last year, as he picked up an injury after the World Cup and no ODI series has been played since he regained fitness.
The most successful Bangladesh ODI skipper’s return to the national squad was a cheery affair in the dressing room, as he exchanged handshakes with teammates and members of the coaching staff.
The latter is quite different from the last time Mashrafe was with the team, with Russell Domingo having replaced Steve Rhodes as head coach, among other changes.
After a long session with the ball, the experienced captain sat at a table at the corner of the batting nets with Domingo to no doubt make plans for Zimbabwe.
However, the scenes were overshadowed by discussions in the sidelines on topics Mashrafe does not enjoy addressing.
Just before the 36-year old’s return to the national fold, Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hasan had said the Zimbabwe series would be Mashrafe’s last as captain.
The BCB boss had also said Mashrafe’s future inclusion in the side would be on the basis of his performance.
According to Nazmul, the board is looking to name a new Bangladesh ODI captain in a month and the new leader may take charge for the one-off ODI against Pakistan in April.
Many see the selection of a new captain and the insistence that Mashrafe has to perform to be included in the side as steps on the road to his retirement.
Questions over whether the experienced seamer should retire started being raised after the World Cup 2019, where both Mashrafe and team failed to perform.
Bangladesh finished eighth in the 10-team tournament.
Mashrafe has dismissed the BCB’s attempts to arrange a grand send-off and the cricketer has on multiple occasions insisted that the decision on when to retire is his alone.
He went as far as saying he has no problems with being dropped from the national side on the basis of performance and even opted out of a BCB central contract to make way for new players.
If the veteran campaigner wishes to play on, the equation is simple – perform well and you cannot be dropped.
The Zimbabwe ODI series could very well be the first acid test to see if one of the pillars of Bangladesh cricket can play on.