Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has said that the third and final ODI of the series against Zimbabwe, scheduled to be played on Friday, will be his last as captain for the Bangladesh ODI side.
Mashrafe, who is Bangladesh's most successful ODI captain, informed the media about his decision during a press conference today.
The announcement comes a day before the third ODI. Mashrafe had previously said the decision to retire should be left up to him and if the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) asks him to let go of the captaincy, he will do so.
In a somber voice, the cricketer who had captained Bangladesh in 87 matches since taking on the role back in 2010, said: "Tomorrow is going to be my last match as captain. I want to thank the Bangladesh Cricket Board for keeping their faith in me for such a long period of time. I also want to thank the players who have played under my captaincy."
"I'm sure the process wasn't easy, the journey of the last 5-6 years. I also want to thank the team management who I have played under.
"Obviously the ODI tomorrow is going to be my last as captain. As a player, I will try to give my best if the opportunity comes. My best wishes are there for the one who will be the next captain. My belief is that he will take Bangladesh towards the next step and if I am in the team I will try to use my experience and whatever knowledge I have to offer to help him," Mashrafe announced, clarifying once again that he would like to continue on as a player in the side.
The decision to step down from the captaincy comes after BCB president Nazmul Hassan had strongly hinted last month that the Zimbabwe series was going to be Mashrafe's last as captain.
"If he wants to play, he can play. I am more concerned about captaincy. When we declare another captain and he can get into the side through his performance, then it's fine. But the captaincy will be decided in a matter of months," the BCB president had said on February 19.
Asked about the matter again on February 25th, Nazmul said that he did not comment on whether Zimbabwe series will be Mashrafe's last as a player. "I said that the next board meeting will happen within one month and there we will decide who will be the next captain. And after that, whether he will be captain or continue playing, we cannot say that before that meeting. So far, we need Mashrafe in this series," Nazmul had said.
Bangladesh lead the three-match ODI series 2-0 and the Tigers can give their inspirational leader a proper send off with a win against Zimbabwe, which will see Mashrafe notch his 50th win as Bangladesh's ODI captain.