Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is arguably Bangladesh's greatest-ever captain in 50-over cricket. He led the Tigers to their biggest World Cup achievement so far in 2015. Just before he took captaincy, Bangladesh were struggling in 2014. But Mashrafe led from the front and the team rose from the ashes like a Pheonix.
Besides being a captain, Mashrafe is a notable performer for the Tigers in Red and Green. He is the second-highest wicket-taker in the 50-over for Bangladesh.
On his 38th birthday, The Business Standard (TBS) takes a look at Mashrafe's top 5 performances in ODI cricket.
31(39) & 2/36(10) vs India, Dhaka, 2004
Bangladesh had 11 losses on the trot going into this match and the team had never won a home ODI. India were without some of their key players but they still were an extremely strong side. Bangladesh put up a good fight in the first ODI though. But they couldn't start well with the bat and kept on losing wickets in regular intervals. Bangladesh, in the 44th over, were reduced to 187 for eight and it did not look like they would go past 200. But Mashrafe stepped up with the bat. He found an ally in the form of Tapash Baisya and these two stitched a crucial 39-run partnership for the 9th wicket. Mashrafe scored a valuable 31 off 39 unbeaten and propelled Bangladesh to 229 for nine after 50 overs.
Mashrafe carried his form while he was bowling too, knocking over the dangerous Virender Sehwag in the very first over. He came back to get rid of MS Dhoni in the 38th over and finished with figures 9-2-36-2. Bangladesh went on to win the match. It was their first victory against India in any form of cricket and the win happened to be Bangladesh's first on home soil. Mashrafe was adjudged player of the match.
3/53(9) & 43*(53) vs Kenya, Nairobi, 2006
Kenya batted first in that match and Bangladesh were all over them right from the beginning. Mashrafe was slightly expensive in that match but picked up three important wickets that included the scalp of Kenya skipper Steve Tikolo. Kenya folded for only 184.
Chasing a pretty small total, Bangladesh didn't start well. The batting order collapsed and Kenya were running away with the game. Bangladesh lost their 8th wicket in the 38th over with 51 more to win. Mashrafe came to the rescue and played a match-winning knock of unbeaten 43 off 53 balls. He put on 51 off 48 balls with Abdur Razzak to see Bangladesh home with 24 deliveries to spare. Mashrafe came into bat when Bangladesh needed 65 to win and 43 came off his bat. Of course, Mashrafe was named player of the match.
4/38(9.3) vs India, Port of Spain, 2007
India seemed to have always brought the best out of Mashrafe. He was running a fever and still had not recovered from the shock of his dear friend Manjarul Islam Rana's death. But Mashrafe delivered when it mattered the most. It was the World Cup and a good performance against India would be something that the world would surely take notice of.
Mashrafe led the way again, dismissing Virender Sehwag early. Bangladesh never let India off the hook and India were eventually bundled out for a sub-200 total. Mashrafe was the pick of the bowler with 4 wickets, conceding only 38 runs. Bangladesh went on to win the match by five wickets.
22(25) & 2/42(10) vs England, Bristol, 2010
Bangladesh were up against the pace trio of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ajmal Shahzad. They were restricted to 196 for six in the 44th over when Mashrafe walked out to bat. He contributed 22 valuable runs off 25 deliveries before getting run-out to put up a fighting total of 236.
England started well but Bangladesh bowlers bowled their hearts out and triggered a mini-collapse in the middle and late order.
But Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad put on a solid partnership and the game was slipping away from Bangladesh. Mashrafe broke the 43-run stand between them by dismissing Broad and in the next over got rid of James Anderson. Trott was running out of partners and eventually fell to Shafiul Islam in the final over on 94. Bangladesh won by five runs and it was Bangladesh's first-ever victory against England in any form of cricket. Mashrafe, for his all-round performance, got the man of the match award.
44(29) & 4/29(8.4) vs England, Mirpur, 2016
Mahmudullah, the top-scorer of the match, got out in the 40th over with the score being 161 for six only. Mosaddek Hossain was also dismissed a couple of overs later. But Mashrafe showed the batting prowess and hit the England bowlers all around the park. His stormy innings of 44 off 29 was studded with two fours and three sixes. Bangladesh posted 238 on the board.
Mashrafe triggered a top-order collapse as he got James Vince, Jason Roy and Ben Stokes out, leaving England tottering at 26 for four. The last wicket of Jake Ball, most fittingly, was taken by Mashrafe who finished with figures 8.4-0-29-4. He was rightly adjudged man of the match.