Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was at his best as the captain against Pakistan…..

Only the toughest, and not just tough, can shine brightly in the topsy-turvy world of international cricket. Only the toughest rise above the rest. Only the toughest can lead from the front. Only the toughest can be the ultimate leader. One cannot deny the fact, in modern day cricket, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is one hell of a leader – an inspiration and over the years, has become a tactical genius in the limited-overs format.

When the going gets tough, the whole team looks forward to their captain. A captain is the one, who calm things down under pressure and whose tactical moves change the course of the match. A captain may have an off day with the bat or ball, but still can deliver the best for his team with encouragement an intelligence.

When the matter is about inspiring someone, there cannot be anyone better than Mash at present. During the match against, Afghanistan, Mustafizur Rahman was suffering from cramps in his second spell. The sight of a struggling Fizz in a very crucial situation left the team frustrated as Fizz is one of the strike bowlers. But Mashrafe came forward to lift Fizz up.

Fizz said, “The heat there [in Abu Dhabi] is more than the ground in Dubai; not just me but a lot of us were cramping. I told bhai [skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza] during my second three-over spell that I was having cramps in my calves. He told me to rest, but that I have to come back at the end. I said that I would do it any way I could”.

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This is what mentorship can do to a team and an individual. Had Mashrafe been frustrated during that crunch situation and exhibited emotions, Fizz would not have gained the much needed confidence. It lifted up his spirit and in that penultimate over, Fizz delivered one of the best overs in his career. Bangladesh escaped the Afghan scare by just two runs.

Just before the start of the crucial match against Pakistan, Mashrafe came to know, Shakib Al Hasan would not be able to play due to an injury. Missing your best player in such a crucial match, is nothing but a telling blow. Automatically, the confidence of the team goes down. The absence of Shakib meant, Bangladesh would be without a batsman and a bowler and the Tigers would need to rely on their part-timers.

Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Mithun chipped in yet again to script another important partnership. It helped Bangladesh to recover from the early hiccup, but still, 239 is not a defendable total against a team like Pakistan and with Shakib absent, Mash was needed to unleash his tactical best on the field.

Pakistan were in tatters with the new ball, but as soon as Shoaib Malik and Imam-ul-Haq came together, Bangladesh came under pressure. We all know how dangerous Shoaib Malik can be and in the next one hour, he pulled Pakistan out of the rut.

Taming the dangerous Shoaib Malik

Mashrafe sensed, the match might slip out of his hands and thus, decided to attack the middle and leg stump from a full-length. He engaged himself at midwicket. The responsibility was on Rubel Hossain to make Malik play a stroke in the air towards midwicket.

The first ball of over 21 was a fullish delivery on middle stump. Rather than flicking it, Malik attempted to chip it over midwicket – Mash’s plan worked. It was a half chance, but Mash took the catch like a superman.

It was a well-thought move to get rid of Malik and the flying catch made the whole thing eye-catching.

Soumya and Mahmudullah deliver with the ball

From over 20, Bangladesh entered into a phase where Shakib used to play a vital role. But Mashrafe would not be bothered by the Shakib-factor, but threw the ball to his part-timers. There is always a risk while bowling with part-timers – either they can leak runs or they can fetch you wickets. You cannot expect enough from them. But you can make them look better if you provide them with the right field placements.

But the most exciting thing about those 15 overs bowled between Soumya Sarkar and Mahmudullah Riyad was, they delivered the goods like a regular bowler.  And the confidence came from Mash, who gave them the ideal field placements – Soumya would bowl on top of off and if his, half-volleys were attempted to put away through the cover or backward point, the fielders were placed in those areas for protections and Mash did not keep the midwicket region empty. The midwicket was kept intact to apply more pressure. He had a deep square leg at the expense of a deep midwicket and fine leg up in the circle.

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With no square leg in position and fine leg up, a struggling Shadab Khan decided to break the shackles by attempting to play a half-hearted hook-shot over fine leg against the dollies of Soumy, but he edged one and the part-timer gave Bangladesh their fifth wicket.

The plot was set to get r of Shadab and it worked.

Brilliant captaincy!

At the other end, Mahmudullah’s task was to dry up the singles and he continued to attack the stumps till the end. Mash knew about the inexperience of Pakistan batting line-up and thus kept the mid-off up in the circle while Mahmudullah was bowling. The deep midwicket would be a bit wider, so that it attracts the Pakistani batters to attempt a false stroke against Mahmudullah’s straighter ones. While the extra-cover would come in from gully to stop the singles.

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Riyad dismissed Imam in the crucial juncture of the match and it was just a matter of time for Bangladesh to celebrate a memorable victory.

In those 15 overs, Soumya and Mahmudullah leaked 57 runs at an average of 3.8. Apart from Mehidy Hasan Miraz, the pacers leaked 4 runs per over, which could have proved handy if the part-timers were not used smartly by Mashrafe.


It was never easy to fill the gap of a champion like Shakib, but with someone like Mashrafe around, you can breathe with comfort as because, not only his mentorship would benefit the team, his tactical mind, would help to shift the balance towards Bangladesh.


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