The diminutive Bangladesh Test captain Mominul Haque must have heaved a sigh of relief after beating the hapless Zimbabweans in Dhaka by an innings and in the process recording his first victory as captain.
His team was completely annihilated in their recent overseas outings. First in the India tour, in which Bangladesh lost both the Test matches by innings margin and then, repeating the same against Pakistan at Rawalpindi.
Almost in all the matches, the Bangladesh team was unable to drag the Test match on to the fourth day. One of the most pathetic displays in a Test match in recent memory, however, was against the Afghanistan team in 2019, which the hosts lost by a big margin of 224 runs under the leadership of Shakib Al Hasan. It was an embarrassment that will surely haunt the boys for some time to come.
After the relief of the Test win against Zimbabwe, Mashrafe Mortaza comes back to the one-day squad to face the same opposition, after much speculation. The skipper had been coping with injuries and hopefully will look to this series as his final stint for Bangladesh.
The attitude and mindset of the Board, as well as the player himself, with regards to his retirement, is rather uncalled for, or intriguing. The Board seems to be taking Mashrafe to yet another milestone and the skipper himself seems to be devoid of any necessity to hang up his boots and seems to love basking in the glory.
In his infinite wisdom, which of course the skipper seems to lack at times, he could well have called it quits, with his head held high and follow the footsteps of so many greats who have left the game with honour.
Not many countries would have persisted with a non-performing captain as Bangladesh did during the last World Cup during which Mashrafe, who was the main strike bowler, was not only half-fit but went virtually wicket-less throughout the tournament.
One could easily attribute the dismal World cup performance by Bangladesh to the weak and selfish leadership of Mashrafe Murtaza, something that one previously would never dare associate with the lion-hearted cricketer, but now that is the harsh reality. As the age-old cliché goes "a team is as good as the captain" and that is exactly what Bangladesh proved, sans Shakib Al Hasan's lone battle against all oppositions.
Meanwhile, the Cricket Board president in one of his many authoritative and assertive statements recently mentioned that if Mashrafe was to continue playing for the team, then it will only be through fitness and performance that the veteran can stake a regular claim to the squad.
Such statements do make one wonder whether the Board or Mashrafe has anything concrete in terms of plans, be it for the short term or the long term. Confusing isn't it?
Nevertheless, there have been massive changes made for the one-day series against the Zimbabweans. Youngsters like Afif Hossain, Naim Sheikh and Najmul Hossain Shanto will be made to play and showcase their skills at home, albeit against not the most formidable of oppositions.
Starting the tournament as clear favourites, Bangladesh will surely look to dominate in all departments and with the onus on the pace attack, it will be up to Mashrafe Mortaza yet again to prove himself as he will spearhead the pacers and try to get back to his wicket-taking ways.