Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has been ruled out of the ongoing Asia Cup due to injury when his services as an experienced campaigner are desperately needed by the Tigers in the absence of some senior players. It is a real setback for the home side ahead of their vital clash against Afghanistan at the Fatullah Cricket Stadium today.
The 30-year-old leading paceman had sustained a side strain during the match against India on February 26 to increase the woes of the Tigers as they have to play against Afghanistan without inspirational all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan -- who will return in the third game after completion of his three-match ban -- and the injured Tamim Iqbal. The uncertainty over captain Mushfiqur Rahim for today's match further places Bangladesh in dire straits but there remains the hope that the youngsters can step up, as they have done earlier in similar scenarios.
Injury has already become synonymous with Mashrafe, who is affectionately called the “Narail Express”. Many dreams of the country's most talented pace bowler were shattered because of injury after injury since he made his international debut against Zimbabwe in Dhaka in 2001. Both knees were operated on more than once; he has suffered from back pain and was ruled out with a twisted ankle but the way the paceman kept recovering from debilitating injuries and making comebacks has been nothing short of inspirational.
Many have been amazed with his mental toughness and eagerness to continue his career. On each comeback he returned with new promise and even in the last game against India on Wednesday the injury-prone bowler proved the importance of his role for his side. As significantly, he is the man who can cheer up the team off the field, but the growing problem is that the team lives in constant fear of losing their talisman.
When Mashrafe disclosed recently that he wants to revive his career and even try a comeback to the longer version, many doubted his words. Ultimately, it seems that the body could not sustain the mind's will.
Injuries are common in cricket, but in Mashrafe's case it has reached a stage where everyday is played in hope, and this has actually started to jeopardise the team's plans.
As national team physio Vibhav Singh said yesterday, there is time before the ICC World Twenty20 and Mashrafe may return once more, but the question is: will the paceman be able to play the entire tournament?
Usually Mashrafe is as friendly as can be but the latest injury might have dented his confidence most because this time he had high hopes of a prolonged stint, which is probably why he was not interested in giving his reaction.