If there was any question about the quality of Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza's focus on cricket after he became involved in politics, he answered it not only with three good bowling performances in Bangladesh's 2-1 ODI series win, but also with words after winning the third and final game against West Indies in Sylhet yesterday.
The 35-year-old, who will contest a seat in his hometown of Narail in the upcoming general election, very seldom gets riled up by questions. He was not exactly angry, but reacted with more irritation than any cricketing question can cause when asked what his plans were in the political sphere.
"Because of this type of question, I did a press conference before the series," Mashrafe, who finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker of the series with six scalps, said. "I expected that there wouldn't be any such questions during the series. I want to thank you for not asking me these questions in the last 8-10 days, which helped me a lot."
The win was all the more auspicious as it came in the 70th ODI that Mashrafe played as captain, a Bangladesh record.
There was reason to be miffed as Mashrafe was basking in the glory of the country's eighth series win out of 12 since the end of the 2015 World Cup. All of those have come under Mashrafe and he believed it put the team in good stead for the 2019 World Cup less than six months away in England.
"Winning eight out of 12 ODI series makes it clear that we have progressed, and we are playing with confidence," Mashrafe said. "We have the New Zealand series coming up [in February 2019]. It is an important series for us since we lost to them last year. I think we have a more balanced sideand hope to do well there."
There was one more question that was not about the match that he had to bat aside, and that was regarding whether the 35-year-old would retire after the World Cup.
"From the bottom of my heart, I have never deeply thought about [this being my last game at home]. What I will do after the World Cup, I will decide after the last match in the World Cup. I will come home and tell you if I am no longer playing and if I want to review my situation, I will still let you know. So, don't be puzzled. Just relax,” Mashrafe said with a laugh.
The person he had to thank for this latest laurel was sitting beside him. While Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar made a mockery of the chase, it was Mehedi Hasan Miraz's career-best figures of four for 29 that enabled the Tigers to romp home with eight wickets and 69 balls to spare.
"The wicket had slight moisture with help for spinners early in the game. It was great to bowl eight overs from one end, which helped me take wickets," Mehedi said. He has just recently, from the tour of West Indies in July, started playing regularly in the ODI team and was beaming with delight at having put in a series-winning performance.
“I have always wanted to do well in ODIs, after I made the good start in Tests. I have only become consistent in ODIs since the West Indies series. If I bowl tightly in ODIs, the captain will have trust in me."