It was about time.
When Mashrafe Bin Mortaza took charge as the captain of Bangladesh ODI and T20I side in 2014, the team was going through hell. They could not get out of the labyrinth of defeat and had even succumbed to a defeat to Hong Kong on home soil in the 2014 T20 World Cup.
Mashrafe had taken that team and marvelled with them. Not only did they reach the quarter-finals of the 2015 Cricket World Cup, but they also dominated Pakistan, India and South Africa on home soil.
And now, it all comes to an end. He started off his last and longest stint as captain against Zimbabwe, and like a full cycle, the closure also arrives against Zimbabwe. In between, almost six years have passed and the 'Narail Express' had given birth to many magnificent memories.
Mashrafe's tenure as the skipper came to an end under a lot of trial and tribulation and it somehow reminisced his first days. When he was first handed the baton from Mohammad Ashraful in all three formats in 2009, he was injured on the third day in Bangladesh's Test against West Indies and was out for about a year. He returned in 2010 and helped Bangladesh clinch their first-ever win against England but his luck ran out soon.
He was once again injured and this time, Shakib Al Hasan was made the skipper permanently. Mashrafe missed out on the 2011 Cricket World Cup in home territory. But like a phoenix, he came back. He came back and became the skipper in 2014. In the darkest of hours of Bangladesh cricket, Mashrafe took charge. And what happened next, was a sight to behold.
Bangladesh knocked England out at Adelaide and reached the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time, but that was just the start. Under his leadership, Bangladesh clean-swept Pakistan at home and India were left spinning by a young Mustafizur Rahman.
Then came South Africa, but they were sent back defeated too. But success did not stop there as under Mashrafe Bangladesh managed to reach back-to-back Asia Cup finals in 2016 and 2018. The Tigers failed to win any, but it was momentous.
Mashrafe retired from T20Is in 2017 but continued to lead the ODI side. Bangladesh reached the semi-finals of the 2017 Champions Trophy and Bangladesh's first-ever trophy came in 2019. And as regular services, Mashrafe led the pack.
But every sweet dream comes to a bitter morning and Mashrafe's was the 2019 World Cup. He himself managed only one wicket in eight matches and the side finished eighth despite Shakib's phenomenal performance.
And since then, Mashrafe's leadership was questioned. His place in the side was questioned and one question was ever-present, 'When will you retire?'
Though Mashrafe has not retired, he has only left his post as skipper and is willing to help his successor. And he has completed his service like no other.
Mashrafe has captained Bangladesh in 87 ODIs and won 49 matches. That means a winning percentage of 56.32%, which is highest among Bangladesh captains. He already has more than 100 wickets as captain, only three captains have the same and they are - Imran Khan, Shaun Pollock and Wasim Akram.
One of Mashrafe's predecessors as skipper, Habibul Bashar believes that Mashrafe is the best captain Bangladesh have had and he really knew how to form a group who were hungry for a win.
"He has taken himself to a whole new level as captain. He was the best captain (for Bangladesh). He understood his side's strengths very well. He knew very well how to unite the players and drive them towards a fixed goal," said Bashar, one of Bangladesh's most successful captains.
Another former national team skipper Faruque Ahmed belives that Mashrafe took the right decision.
"He is a great leader. Bangladesh cricket will remember him for a long time. He had to leave his post as skipper at some time. He is a wise person and I think that he has made the right decision," Faruque said.
He further added that as a skipper, Mashrafe was incomparable. Faruk said, "To me, he is the best (Bangladeshi captain). We were playing cricket on a level and he took us to a whole different level. Putting his statistics and his on and off the field leadership in the calculation, he is incomparable as skipper."
Mashrafe has been undoubtedly Bangladesh's most successful skipper ever. Nobody comes near him at the summit but everything comes to an end. And with his political career blooming and also his age being well on the wrong side of 30, it is high time Mashrafe took this decision.
There might be questions if Mashrafe was forced by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) to step down but there is no conclusive proof to prove that. The BCB president had been making some confusing comments about Mashrafe and the ODI captaincy position. Throw Mashrafe opting out of the central contract into the bucket and all of these will make you feel, this decision was not far away.
And now, that prognosis has become the prophecy. Mashrafe has indeed stepped down as ODI captain and there is an uncanny resemblance with him retiring from T20Is in 2017. But again, there is no strong evidence to prove that he was forced in any of the incidents.
And it is what it is. Mashrafe Mortaza is no more the skipper of any Bangladesh national side. No more of Mashrafe flipping the coin for Bangladesh.
No more, of 'Captain Fantastic'.