Emotional Bangladesh gears up for captain Mashrafe's World Cup farewell

Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza will play his final World Cup match against Pakistan on Friday.

Mashrafe Mortaza has played 216 ODIs, 54 T20Is and 36 Tests for Bangladesh, taking 386 wickets across all three formats.   -  Getty Images

As the Bangladesh cricketers trained at the Lord’s on Thursday afternoon, the Bangladesh media was busy looking for Mashrafe Bin Mortaza. While the other players walked onto the ground, the captain -- who will play his last World Cup fixture against Pakistan on Friday -- was nowhere to be seen.

The inquisitive media fraternity soon called up the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) officials to know what’s the matter. And in the next few minutes, all one could hear were questions like: “Mash kheltache toh kal?” (Mash is playing tomorrow, right) or “Bhaya, Mash thik ache?” (Brother, is Mash alright?)

The BCB officials clarified that the captain skipped training as he wasn’t keeping well. It has been learned that the 35-year old has pulled up a slight hamstring injury, but the team management is confident that he will play on Friday.

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This hasn’t been a World Cup to remember for the captain. In the seven matches that he has played, Mashrafe took just one wicket and contributed 19 runs with the bat.

For the Bangladesh fans, Mashrafe remains an icon for his unshakable spirit who has led the national team to series victories against the likes of India, South Africa, Pakistan and a quarterfinal finish at the 2015 World Cup -- while battling multiple injuries.

“I often use the word warrior, but he goes to war for the team. People respect that, understand that, and they love him because of it,” Steve Rhodes, Bangladesh's head coach, said.

“It’s his last World Cup and it will be emotional for him. Hopefully, the boys will give him the right sort of respect playing his last game in the World Cup,” Rhodes added.

With the BCB chief, Najmul Hasan Papon likely to be present for the game on Friday, it would be interesting to see what Mashrafe decides about his future.

Before the World Cup, he became a Member of the Bangladesh Parliament, leading to speculations that he may aim for a bigger role in politics. But with the captain still not making an official statement, Bangladesh fans hope their ‘Captain Mash’ continues.