The stands at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium (SICS) were packed for the third and the final ODI of the series on Friday (Mar 6). The scenario was different to that of the first two matches despite Bangladesh being on top against the lower racked opponents.
Mashrafe Mortaza playing his last game as Bangladesh ODI captain is the sole reason behind the spectators flowing into SICS. The day is a weekend and the occasion is the last the country will witness Bangladesh’s most successful ODI skipper in action.
Crowd started gathering outside SICS early hours of Friday in order to collect tickets and witness the historical match. A lot of supporters have also come from Dhaka to give a memorable send-off to Mashrafe. A win for Bangladesh in the game will be the 50th victory for Mashrafe as captain in the format.
“It is Friday and the game is last match for Mashrafe as captain. There is no way I could miss it,’’ said a Bangladesh supporter.
Right-arm pacer Mashrafe rocked Bangladesh cricket fraternity on Thursday after he declared his decision to step down as ODI captain. The decision is the end result of saga that started following Bangladesh’s and Mashrafe’s below par performance in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 last year.
Despite the situation Mashrafe’s fan base stayed strong and it is being hard for them to accept the fact that their hero will not be in action as a national captain.
“When you are doing it for last 5-6 years, boys have been working hard for me as well as the team, their support and the coaching staff, it is going to be emotional. There are so many moments, there have been lots of ups and downs but the thing we look at is the progress as a team. My best wishes will be with the team. The fans expect us to win every game and hopefully the next captain can motivate the team to do well. I love this game and the supporters. They support us if we win or lose and that's been my motivation,’’ said Mashrafee ahead of the game.
Mashrafe since 2010 has led Bangladesh in ODIs in two parts and is the most successful, having won 49 times in 87 matches. In his first tenure in 2010, the right-arm pacer led Bangladesh to three wins in seven matches - against England in Bristol, Ireland and then against New Zealand at home. Following around three years of gap, Mashrafe was again given charge to lead Bangladesh in ODIs in 2014 and since then, he has led his side to 46 wins in 80 games.