October 23, 2016

Mosharraf brought in for spin boost

Sports Reporter: It is not often that teams train in the morning following a day-night encounter. So when the Bangladesh national team decided to start training at 11:00 am yesterday following their defeat to Afghanistan, in a match that ended at approximately 10:30 pm on Wednesday, a few eyebrows were raised.

Was the management compelled to take such a strict measure due to the defeat at the hands of the Afghans? Not quite.

Soon after the Tigers started training yesterday morning, the motive was clear. The training session was optional and only a few players had arrived. It was mainly meant for the players who had been rested in the last game: Imrul Kayes, Nasir Hossain and Shafiul Islam. It was mandatory for Mosharraf Hossain, who replaced Rubel Hossain in the squad for the third ODI, as well.

Unsurprisingly though, Mushfiqur Rahim joined the four players, but seemed to have a separate training session. While the rest of the four players were busy with their net sessions at the Mirpur indoors, Mushfiqur was busy with his own routine at the other end of the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.

It is nothing new for Mushfiqur to attend optional training sessions. In fact, not many can recall the last time the wicketkeeper-batsman missed a training session.

He was the first one out, doing his warm-ups on the main ground in Mirpur. Perhaps this is his way of getting over rough times, for he did have a torrid game against Afghanistan on Wednesday. Not only did he throw away his wicket after being set, he also fluffed a stumping chance at a crucial point in the game.

However, Mushfiqur was not the talking point yesterday.

Thursday belonged to 34-year-old Mosharraf Hossain, who stands a good chance of returning to the playing eleven after a gap of eight years. The last time he played an ODI was against South Africa back in March 2008. He was picked in the 20-member ODI pool after Venkatapathy Raju, the former Indian spinner who had come to Bangladesh for a week as a spin consultant, recommended the slow left-armer.

With Rubel struggling for rhythm in the first two ODIs, the team management decided to replace him with the spinner.

A delighted Mosharraf, who has 339 first-class wickets and 74 List-A wickets, said that he was surprised to get the call.

“At the moment, there’s plenty of competition in the national team and there are many slow left-armers as well. So, that is why I was a little surprised when I got the call. But this feels great,” Mosharraf told The Daily Star yesterday.

“International cricket is very challenging and the situation we are in right now, it will make things more difficult. We lost the last game and so I am sure with spinners dominating, I will have to take a lot more responsibility if I get the chance. I hope to do my best,” he added.

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