It seemed as though Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was all set to remain at the helm for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka when the inspirational cricketer attended the official pre-tour press conference yesterday. However, bad news arrived later in the day as it turned out Mashrafe suffered a hamstring injury while bowling at the nets during a training session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
The news came as a shock for the team management while chief selector Minhajul Abedin later confirmed that Farhad Reza will replace Mashrafe for the three-match ODI series in Sri Lanka.
During the press conference, Mashrafe mentioned that the absence of their best performer of the World Cup, Shakib Al Hasan, is a big loss for the team but little did he know that within a few hours, he too would miss the series due to an injury.
Before being ruled out of the series, Mashrafe shared his observation that the Sri Lanka tour would be one where both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka start on equal footing while adding that it would be a challenging tour.
“Both the teams will be equal as Sri Lanka will be playing at home where they always play well and at the same time their players have been playing together for long time. They also have some good memories in the World Cup. There has been intense rivalry between the two sides since the Nidahas Trophy and these things also count. Both teams will be equal and whoever does well on the given day will win,” Mashrafe told reporters during the pre-tour press conference at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Questions regarding his retirement have become a regular feature which only intensified after his poor performance in the World Cup, where he bagged just two wickets from eight games. Asked whether he feels any extra pressure the 36-year-old had said: “To be honest, as a player I have to take the responsibility and when I took up the captaincy, I had the same feeling. Considering the backdrop of Bangladesh, people started to raise questions pretty early but after surviving for four-five years I don’t feel this is difficult. But as a player there will always be a good or bad feeling and obviously, I will be disappointed when the expectations from me as a player and also as the team are not fulfilled.
Many are consoling me that ‘don’t be disheartened’ but it will be a shame if I am not upset since its natural if I am unable to fulfil my expectations. But to be honest, pressure has always been there and it will remain as long as I play. Ultimately, I am very upset which, if you ask me, is very normal but I have that courage and mentality to comeback.”
There were also concerns over whether the seniors could have been rested in order to give younger players an opportunity in this series as a part of their preparations for the next World Cup. Mashrafe did reiterate this ideal but at the same time said that it is important for Bangladesh cricket to win the upcoming series in Sri Lanka.
“I think four years is long time and if we can produce a few players it would be good as apart from me, most of the existing players have the ability to play in the next World Cup. I think it is more important to focus on the Under-19 and A team than the national team as if we want to do well in the next World Cup, we have to produce some players from now,” he said.