Mashrafe bin Mortaza playing his last game as Bangladesh ODI captain was the sole reason behind the spectators flowing into the SICS
The stands at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium were packed to the rafters for the third and final ODI of the series Friday.
The scenario was in complete contrast to the first two matches, despite Bangladesh being on top against the lower-ranked opponent.
Mashrafe bin Mortaza playing his last game as Bangladesh ODI captain was the sole reason behind the spectators flowing into the SICS.
That it was a weekend also worked in favor of the concerned authority who wanted a full house.
The crowd started gathering outside the SICS in the early hours of Friday morning to collect tickets and watch the historic match.
A lot of supporters also came from Dhaka to give a memorable send-off to Mashrafe.
Mashrafe, coincidentally, was also on the brink of tasting 50 wins as Bangladesh ODI skipper prior to the game.
“It’s Friday and the game is the last one for Mashrafe as captain. There was no way I could miss it,” said a Bangladesh supporter.
Right-arm pacer Mashrafe rocked the Bangladesh cricket fraternity Thursday when he decided to step down as ODI captain.
The decision was the ending of the saga that started following Bangladesh’s, and Mashrafe’s, below-par performance in the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales.
In spite of the situation, Mashrafe’s fan base largely stayed strong, while it was difficult for some to come to terms with the scenario.
“When you are doing it for the last five-six years, boys have been working hard for me as well as the team, their support and the coaching staff, it is going to be emotional. There are so many moments, there have been lots of ups and downs but the thing we look at is the progress as a team. My best wishes will be with the team. The fans expect us to win every game and hopefully the next captain can motivate the team to do well. I love this game and the supporters. They support us if we win or lose and that's been my motivation,” said Mashrafe ahead of the match.
Mashrafe since 2010 has led Bangladesh in ODIs in two parts and is the most successful, having won 49 times in 87 matches.
In his first tenure in 2010, the right-arm pacer led Bangladesh to three wins in seven matches - against England in Bristol, Ireland and then against New Zealand at home.
Following around three years of gap, Mashrafe was again given charge to lead Bangladesh in ODIs in 2014 and since then, he has led his side to 46 wins in 80 games.