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Mashrafe Mortaza all set for his international swansong against Zimbabwe

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While announcing the Bangladesh squad for first two ODIs against Zimbabwe, the BCB President stated that Mashrafe's replacement will be announced shortly after the series as Bangladesh prepare for the next World Cup in 2023.

Mashrafe Mortaza is one of the tallest figures in Bangladesh cricket. Ever since he made his debut against Zimbabwe at Chattogram in 2001, he has won his team many a matches. Mortaza has represented Bangladesh in 36 Tests, 217 ODIs and 54 T20Is. But, just like all good things come to an end, the last chapter of this fairy tale will most probably play out in the ODIs against Zimbabwe.

Incidentally, when Mortaza began his second innings as captain in 2014, the opposition then too, as was the case on his ODI debut, was Zimbabwe. The medium-pacer has captained Bangladesh in a total 85 ODIs, out out which they won 47 and lost 36. A win percentage of over 55 - a pretty good record when you think of the circumstances under which the results have been achieved.

However, it became evident that Mortaza's end was near when he led Bangladesh in the ODI World. He played eight of the team's nine league matches, but his returns as a bowler were shambolic. Despite bowling 56 overs through the tournament, he could manage only one wicket. His pace was terribly down and the bowler finished the tournament with an average of 361.00 and a strike rate of 336.00.

Consequently, based on fitness and merit, he was not picked for the white-ball series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. All this while, the BCB was in touch with him and willing to offer him a farewell game. However, the 36-year-old initially turned down the request and then withdrew him name from the central contract as well. But, he made it clear that he still wanted to represent the country.

"I am just enjoying whatever I am playing now. I don't know whether I will retire from the field, I have not yet decided. There is a matter of selection. I don't automatically count myself in the team after taking one wicket in eight matches. If the selectors think that they will give me a chance, I will definitely try my best to fulfill their expectations," the former skipper said.

As per the latest developments, Mortaza's tenure as the ODI skipper will end after the upcoming three-match home series against Zimbabwe, as announced by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB). Mortaza returns to the squad as captain for the Zimbabwe ODIs. Nazmul Hasan, the BCB President, categorically stated that if Mortaza wants to continue playing for Bangladesh, he will need to pass the fitness test and "has to perform" to get picked from hereon.

"There might have been instances when Mashrafe played despite not passing the beep test but it will not happen now. If he wants to play, he has to perform and get selected in the team," Nazmul said. "We need to make some changes in Mashrafe's case because earlier there was no such thing that a player had to pass the beep test but we have started that now."

"We also need to consider Mashrafe's contribution in turning points of Bangladesh cricket; it is unparalleled. He was outstanding as captain but it is also true that now the time has come for him to decide on how long he wants to play," Nazmul said after a meeting with senior players Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Test skipper Mominul Haque.

The BCB President added that Mashrafe's replacement will be announced shortly after the Zimbabwe series as Bangladesh prepare for the next World Cup in 2023.

The Bangladesh squad for the first two ODIs against Zimbabwe was also announced.

Soumya Sarkar, Anamul Haque, Mosaddek Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Farhad Reza and Taskin Ahmed, who have been part of the team's ODI squad missed the cut. Instead, Liton Das, Nazmul Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain, and Mohammad Saifuddin have been included.

Bangladesh squad for first two ODIs against Zimbabwe: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Tamim Iqbal, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Taijul Islam, Afif Hossain, Mohammad Naim, Al Amin Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Shafiul Islam, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mustafizur Rahman

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