Members of Bangladesh one-day international squad travelled to Sylhet on Thursday for what could be the end of road for veteran Mashrafee Bin Murtaza as they take on Zimbabwe in a three-match series.
Bangladesh Cricket Board has already indicated they would choose a new captain for ODIs after the series in Sylhet keeping the ICC World Cup 2023 in mind and Mashrafee is very unlikely to be part of that plan.
Speculation is rife that batsman Mahmudullah may take over the charge of one-day international side from Mashrafee during the one-off series against Pakistan in April even if latter retains his place in the team with a strong showing against Zimbabwe.
The 36-year old pacer has maintained publicly in the recent time that he will not formally retire from international cricket and will continue pushing for his selection.
While the uncertainty over his future could very well be a distraction for some senior players, the mere presence of the experienced campaigner in the team has come as a source of inspiration for some young players like two newcomers Mohammad Naim and Afif Hossain.
Naim and Afif already played several Twenty20 internationals for Bangladesh but they were yet to play any one-day international and teamed up with Mashrafee in international cricket.
‘I am lucky that I am going to play under Mashrafee bhai,’ Naim told reporters prior to their travel for Sylhet. ‘I did not expect this much. Never thought I even would play in national team. From the age group I thought step by step how I should play,’ said the young opening batsman.
Afif felt that the return of Mashrafee, who did not play any match since leading the side to their modest campaign in the World Cup in UK, would only embolden the group.
‘We are a good side, Mashrafee Bhai is also back. Overall if we can play our normal game we will win [against Zimbabwe],’ Afif said.
The 20-year old cricketer, who played 10 T20Is so far, said he was eagerly waiting for the series since he came into the national fold.
‘I was eagerly waiting for it for many days, I played T20s, when I would get call-up in one-day international side. My dream has come true and will try to do something well for the team,’ he said.
Afif felt the upcoming series against Zimbabwe could also be a transition time for Bangladesh cricket.
‘It’s good that we, the junior players, are getting chance. Now if we can keep our place by doing well, it will be good,’ he said.
The three ODIs of the series will be held in Sylhet respectively on March 1, 3 and 6.
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