Sat, 20 Jul 2019

Was this Mashrafe Mortaza's last ODI at home

15 Dec 2018, 03:52 GMT+10

At the end of the 49th over of West Indies' innings, Mashrafe Mortaza walked towards the bowling crease, teasing keen observers into believing he might hand over his cap to the umpire to bowl the last over - perhaps his last over for Bangladesh at home.

Speculation about the Bangladesh-West Indies ODI series being Mashrafe's last at home has been rife, and here's why. Mashrafe, who has decided to step into politics, had said that he hoped to finish his career with the 2019 World Cup after Bangladesh's participation was confirmed last year. If the 2019 World Cup is expected to be his swansong, then this is the last ODI series Bangladesh play at home before that.

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Besides, given his age and fitness - and impending political career - Mashrafe is unlikely to stretch his career beyond the World Cup. But did he, at any point on Friday, feel that this would be his last home game?

"Since 2011, I have always felt this way before a game, that what if I get another knee injury, then this will be my last game," Mashrafe said. "I used to get knee injuries from nowhere in my early days. To be honest, I have never deeply thought about [this being my last game]. I want to be more prepared to face the challenges ahead."

He would reveal no more, instead telling us to wait and watch. "What I want to do after the World Cup, I will decide after the last match in the World Cup. I will come home and tell you if I am no longer playing, and if I want to review my situation, I will still let you know. So don't be puzzled. Just relax."

Mashrafe had announced his T20I retirement during the toss of the first T20I against Sri Lanka last year, when the presenter asked him if the rumours were true. He had informed the team's senior players first, and then the rest of the team. However, it came as a surprise for a few BCB officials who were present at the R Premadasa Stadium.

He was asked about his ODI plans after the second game of this series in Mirpur, too. "If I don't feel like playing any longer, I will leave the game," he had said then. "I am a person who runs on my gut feeling, which makes it hard for me to answer your question."

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