Dhaka, Bangladesh
Mortaza happy with ODI improvement

Mortaza happy with ODI improvement

Sports Desk Over the course of last 12 months, Bangladesh have made significant progress in the 50-over format of the game, capsulised by the point that they have a win percentage of 65 in that period. The Asian country maintained their winning momentum by sealing the three-match ODI series versus the Windies 2-1 on Friday. After slipping to a loss in the second ODI, the home side's bowlers put up a clinical show in Sylhet to restrict the Windies to just 198 for 9 and romped home by nine wickets to clinch the rubber. Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh captain, pointed out that the Asian nation has been going through a good patch in ODIs. The veteran cricketer also hoped that Bangladesh would do well in New Zealand, where they are scheduled to play three ODIs and three Tests next year. "Winning eight out of 12 ODI series makes it clear that we have progressed, and we are playing with confidence," he said. "We have the New Zealand series coming up. It is an important series for us since we lost to them last year. I think we have a more balanced side, and we hope to do well there." Mortaza commended the bowlers for executing their plans to near-perfection. He also had a few words of praise for Soumya Sarkar, who cracked an impressive hand of 80, batting at No.3. "Combination is important for a team. Not that we always get it right but execution is more important. The bowlers executed their plans today. Winning the toss was vital too but the bowlers did the work for the batsmen. Soumya is ideal for No.3 and he delivered. It is all about execution and holding your nerve." The one-sided game was also marred by a bit of controversy. In the 26th over of Windies' innings when Rovman Powell, the Windies skipper, was dismissed by Mehidy Hasan, there was an extra fielder positioned on the on side. However, despite the extra fielder being stationed for as many as seven balls, the on field umpire didn't adjudge the delivery that led to Powell's wicket as a no ball. Subsequently, Carlos Brathwaite, the substitute, came out on the field and had a chat with the umpires but to no avail. "We all know that 6-3 is a no-ball. But we were only focused on getting them out and ended up having six fielders on the on-side. Since the umpire had made his call, he had to be given out," he said. Despite taking more than 250 ODI wickets and in addition to it, his proven credentials as a captain, there were question marks over Mortaza's future after he entered politics. During his distinguished career, Mortaza has also been troubled by a spate of injuries. The seasoned cricketer said that he will decide about his future after Bangladesh's last game at next year's World Cup. "Since 2011, I have always felt this way before a game, that 'what if I get another knee injury, and this will be my last game?' To be honest, have never deeply thought about [this being my last game] There are challenges ahead and I want to be more prepared to face those. What I will do after the World Cup, I will decide after the [team's] last match in the World Cup." Meanwhile, Mehidy, who returned impressive figures of 4 for 29, observed that winning the toss helped the bowlers as there was a little bit of moisture underneath the surface. "Luck favoured us because Mashrafe bhai won the toss. The wicket had slight moisture with help for spinners early on in the game. It was great to bowl eight overs from one end. It is difficult to bowl with the new ball, especially with two fielders outside the circle. But good balls bring more opportunities for wickets. I try to bowl in the right areas and not give away boundaries." The off spinner, who picked up a rich haul of 12 scalps on his Test debut against England in 2016, had a rather quiet start to his ODI career. However, in recent times he has been in good form, evidenced by the 17 scalps he has snared at an average of 28.35 in his last 14 ODIs. "I have always wanted to do well in ODIs after I made a good start in Tests. I have only become consistent in ODIs since the West Indies series. If I bowl tight in ODIs, the captain will have trust in me," he said. Meanwhile, 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. Given his age and fitness - and impending political career - Mashrafe is unlikely to stretch his career beyond the World Cup. Even if he does, given as of now Bangladesh have little lined up at home post the showpiece event - series against Sri Lanka in December 2019 and against Ireland in June 2020 - he has scant opportunity for even a farewell ODI at home. So, 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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