There was a lot of talk prior to the start of the three-match ODI series against West Indies about whether Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza would be able to keep his focus on cricket after his involvement in politics.
But the experienced cricketer brushed aside all speculation and ended up as the player-of-the-match for his brilliant bowling, which led the Tigers from the front in his milestone 200th ODI as the pacer bagged three wickets for 30 runs in 10 overs.
Rising to special occasions has now become a common feature for the 35-year-old -- he was also adjudged player-of-the-match during Bangladesh's 100th ODI back in 2004 against India for his all-round performance at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
The visitors eventually managed to post a small total of 195 for nine which the Tigers chased comfortably for the loss of five wickets to lead the series 1-0.
“It was not about giving answers. People may have said things if my performance was not good. I have been playing for 18 years now and it is not easy to lose focus just like that. I know myself and I knew that the focus won't shake that easily. I have been working on that area for the past few days -- I tried to prepare myself and wanted to ensure that I was able to bowl where I wanted to in training,” Mashrafe told reporters at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Although the pacers shared seven of the nine West Indies wickets yesterday, Mashrafe gave credit to the two spinners in Shakib Al Hasan and Mehedi Hasan Miraz, who provided a tight start for the hosts with the new ball.
Despite the comfortable win, the inspirational cricketer pointed out a few areas to improve upon, like some of the dropped catches from the fielders, before the second ODI tomorrow.