CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Mashrafee’s career faces fresh setback

Staff Correspondent | Published: 21:48, Mar 29,2020

 
 

Bangladesh pacer Mashrafee bin Murtaza gestures at the end of third and final one-day internationals against Zimbabwe at Sylhet International Stadium on March 6, 2020 — BCB photo

Mashrafee bin Murtaza’s plans of continuing his international career after vacating the captaincy post in one-day internationals has hit a road-block due to the global coronavirus pandemic, which has turned his already uncertain future in cricket even more ambiguous.

Mashrafee ended his captaincy tenure earlier this month, after guiding the team to a 3-0 clean sweep over Zimbabwe at home, taking his tally of wins to 50 off 88 ODIs, the best record for a Bangladesh skipper in the fifty-over cricket.

Mashrafee took the decision after being constantly pressurized to call time on his international career and even faced criticism for holding onto the captaincy mantle after his lacklustre show in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England.

The pacer managed to take just one wicket in eight matches in the tournament and the Tigers finished eighth in the ten-team competition under his leadership.

Moreover, Mashrafee by then had already ventured into politics, getting elected as a member of the parliament in the 2018 general election, which prompted many to assume that he was set to bid international cricket good bye after the World Cup.

But the pacer expressed his desire to continue representing Bangladesh on the cricket field, which received mixed reactions from media and fans alike.

Even after Bangladesh comfortably won the first two ODIs against Zimbabwe the criticism kept increasing before Mashrafee announced on the day prior to the third and final ODI of the series that he would resign from the captaincy role after the next match.

Mashrafee, however, didn’t retire from the game as he said that he still wanted to continue his international career as a player.

Despite his dip in form, there was a strong chance for Mashrafee to play the one-off ODI match against Pakistan in April as the pacer had previously stated that he had no issue in going to the country to play cricket.

The Pakistan tour could have been the beginning of the final chapter of Mashrafee’s international career and his performance there could have had a huge impact on his future with the Bangladesh team.

But the emergence of coronavirus changed everything, as it forced both Bangladesh and Pakistan cricket authorities to call off the final leg of the three-part Pakistan series.

Later the Bangladesh Cricket Board and their Irish counterparts also decided to indefinitely postpone Bangladesh’s Ireland tour in May, meaning Bangladesh now have no ODIs scheduled for 2020 until Sri Lanka arrive in December.

The Dhaka Premier League, the only other fifty-over competition available left for Mashrafee where he could prove his worth as a bowler in the one-day format, also fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic as it got postponed only after one round.

Mashrafee, who is Bangladesh’s most successful bowler in ODIs with 270 wickets, passed his worst period in his ODI career last year claiming just eight wickets in 15 matches with an abysmal average of 83.25.

The chances of Mashrafee stretching his near 19-year international career is bleak as it is, with his injuries still nagging him, maintaining fitness becoming more challenging with age and a number of new exciting pacers knocking on the doors of the national team.

Mashrafee needed to play as many matches as possible at this critical juncture of his career to stay relevant as a player, but the coronavirus pandemic has just made his survival in international cricket much more arduous then before.

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