Mashrafe the perfect beacon | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 18, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:41 AM, April 18, 2019

Mashrafe the perfect beacon

A common perspective about Bangladesh fast bowlers is that they do not get enough opportunities or that the pitch does not allow them to exploit the attributes a genuine seamer would otherwise utilise and eventually, most fade away.

Among all those fast bowlers a 35-year-old pacer, who has undergone seven surgeries in his career so far, is still setting standards for those who dream of becoming a fast bowler in Bangladesh.

Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who picked up his 400th List A wicket in the Dhaka Premier League game for Abahani against Mohammedan yesterday and became the second Bangladeshi to reach the milestone yesterday. The Narail Express, who was stuck on 399 for three games, bowled Irfan Sukkur in his third over and ended up taking three wickets at the end.

Left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak was the first to reach 400 List A wickets earlier in the league, in 269 games, while it took 287 games for Mashrafe.

He will be leading Bangladesh for the second time in the World Cup -- his fourth World Cup appearance since 2003. He missed the 2011 World Cup at home where a dejected Mashrafe was in tears after being left out of the squad because of injury.

With the traditionally seam-friendly conditions in the United Kingdom in mind, the selectors picked five pacers in the 15-member World Cup squad announced on Tuesday. The seamers will have to play a crucial role in the mega event as the pitches are also expected to be batting-friendly.

Apart from Rubel Hossain, who is set to make his third World Cup appearance, it will be the first time for Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Jayed and all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin and it is a blessing that they have someone like Mashrafe in the team from whom to learn.

The question however remains about whether the young seamers actually follow Mashrafe's sheer determination and hunger, evidenced by the way he still pushes himself to keep proving himself as a fast bowler, rather than just as a captain leading the team with inspiration.

According to pacer Abu Jayed, it is Mashrafe's strong mindset and determination that inspires him to give his best.

“Obviously, Mashrafe bhai is a role model for me and many of the fast bowlers in the country. He has always provided me the confidence and actually he was the first to tell me that I am in the team yesterday [Tuesday], before the selectors announced the World Cup squad. The way he has been picking wickets in both international and domestic cricket teaches us a lot to keep the hunger,” Jayed told The Daily Star yesterday.

The 25-year-old Jayed, who has the ability to swing the ball in both directions, also chalked out some plans for the World Cup, saying that he is looking to pick up early wickets and maintaining a tight economy rate.

It will also be a great platform for another pacer in Mustafizur as there are huge expectations of the left-arm seamer ever since he burst onto the scene with series-winning performances against India and South Africa at home.

There are however concerns over Mustafizur, who is recovering from an ankle injury and it will be a huge test of endurance for the Tigers as they will play a minimum of 14 matches in a short span, starting with the Ireland tri-series before the World Cup.

“I don't think it's a big issue; we won't play matches back-to-back as there will be some gap between games. Injuries are part of cricket, but it's important to remain fit,” Mustafizur told the reporters yesterday.

Belief, for Bangladesh fast bowlers, is perhaps the most important ingredient because instead of blaming luck the likes of Taskin Ahmed, who was seen crying after failing to make the World Cup cut, they can take a leaf out of Mashrafe's book and keep working hard for the future.

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