Mashrafe inspires by example
The logic behind Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza's backing of pacers in the ODI format was validated yesterday, and it was the inspirational cricketer who led from the front in his milestone 200th international match for Bangladesh in the first ODI against West Indies.
It was not just about formulating a plan and expecting the others to implement; Mashrafe showed why he has managed to come this far and play 200 ODIs -- 198 for Bangladesh, two for Asian XI in 2007 -- as his experience informs every ball he bowls.
Bangladesh managed to keep things tight for the visitors who opted to bat on a slow Mirpur wicket offering some movement, restricting West Indies to a modest 195 for nine in which the pacers shared seven wickets among them.
It was Mashrafe who led the three seamers, ending up with figures of three for 30 from 10 overs, which included 41 dot balls -- the most by a Bangladesh bowler yesterday.
Left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman also bagged three wickets for 35 runs from his 10 overs while Rubel Hossain was the only pacer who was expensive, conceding 61 runs from his 10 overs and picking up a wicket.
After spinners -- Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Shakib Al Hasan -- provided a tight start with the new ball, Mashrafe brought himself to the attack in the 15th over of the innings and was greeted by a four towards cover by Darren Bravo. After that though, it was all about Mashrafe's experience and the ability to adapt his bowling.
The 'Narail Express' provided hardly any room for the West Indies batsmen and kept mounting the pressure. He bowled seven overs on the trot in his first spell and ended up picking two wickets for just 14 runs.
His first victim was Bravo when he went to clear the ropes and mistimed it, but Mashrafe must thank Tamim Iqbal, who sprinted towards his right from long off and completed a magnificent catch with a full-length dive.
Shai Hope was his second victim when the batsman was caught at point going for a slash as things started to get worse for the visitors.
Mashrafe returned for his second spell in the 37th over and immediately removed West Indies skipper Rovman Powell, conceding just five runs in his two-over spell.
With just 19 runs from nine overs, it was the last over that ruined the figures a little for Mashrafe as the six off the last ball took his runs conceded figure to 30.
Just to give a brief background of the other pressures surrounding Mashrafe, before the game was over his involvement in politics and the decision to contest the upcoming general elections for the ruling party has taken all the limelight from Mashrafe the player to Mashrafe the politician.
Keeping all the off-field issues aside, the charismatic cricketer managed to attract attention for what he has been doing best all for 17 years -- bowling.