Bangladesh eye victory in captain Mashrafe’s swansong

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Mashrafe Thursday announced that the game would be his last as Bangladesh ODI captain and that from now on he would only continue as a player

All attention will be on outgoing Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza when his side take on visitor Zimbabwe in the third and final ODI of the series at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium Friday. 

Mashrafe Thursday announced that the game would be his last as Bangladesh ODI captain and that from now on he would only continue as a player.

Having won the first two ODIs, Bangladesh will no doubt look for a clean sweep, while the players would be eyeing to make the occasion a memorable one for Mashrafe, who is one short of tasting 50 ODI victories as captain.

Under Mashrafe in ODIs, Bangladesh touched new heights since 2015.

In that year, Bangladesh had reached the quarter-final of the World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand, won series against India, Pakistan and South Africa at home, and later progressed to the semi-final of the Champions Trophy 2017 in England.

As far as the playing XI for the match is concerned, the team management is likely to bring in left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman and seamer-allrounder Saifuddin back into the side.

The duo were benched in the second and penultimate ODI in favor of pacers Al Amin Hossain and Shafiul Islam, but the latter two had underperformed.

Shafiul is also absent from the camp as he had to rush back to Dhaka to attend to his ill father.

Mashrafe keeps wickets as Mushfiqur Rahim bats BCB

Discussions are abound as to whether wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim would be in action as the team management is mulling playing an XI that would more or less play the lone ODI against Pakistan in Karachi this April.

Mushfiq is not part of the Pakistan tour, having opted out due to security concerns, and the national think tank is thinking about bringing in a replacement to get him some match experience through the Zimbabwe ODI.

But now with Mashrafe all set to play his last game as captain, it will be interesting to see whether Mushfiq gets benched as it is very likely that the skipper would want the best team out there, and not walk off the ground losing his last match.

Mashrafe had hinted his intention during the press conference Thursday when he said Mushfiq should be given “full priority”.

As for touring Zimbabwe, the African nation will be desperate to avoid a series whitewash, and achieve a long awaited target – winning an ODI against Bangladesh for the first time in seven years.

A win here would inject some confidence in the side which have been losing games on the bounce since their arrival in Bangladesh last month.

The close encounter Tuesday when they nearly chased down the huge target of 323 only to lose by a mere four runs should boost the team’s moral and give them some belief.

The game is scheduled to start at 2pm Bangladesh time and it will not be a surprise to see the SICS stands packed with Mashrafe set to sign off for Bangladesh as a leader one last time.