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Dhaka, Monday 10 Dec, 2018
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Return of Shakib, Tamim is an advantage: Mashrafe

Sports Desk Daily-Bangladesh.com
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After a forgettable time in South Africa last year where Bangladesh slid to an ignominious 0-3 loss in the ODI series, the Asian nation has been on an upward curve in the 50-over format. Bangladesh reached the final of the tri-series played at home, overcame the Windies in their own backyard, powered their way to the summit clash of the Asia Cup and blanked Zimbabwe 3-0.

Bangladesh's 65% win-loss record in the ODI format during the aforementioned period capsulises their good form. Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh captain, also observed that the home team would go into the three-match ODI series versus the Windies with momentum behind them. The first game of the rubber will be played at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on Sunday (November 9).

"This year, our winning percentage is very good apart from the two losses in the final," Mortaza said to reporters. "Obviously, if we could have won a final that would have been better, especially the Asia Cup. I think it would be great if we can end the year on a winning note. There will be [a] lot of challenges from the beginning of next year, so doing well at the end of the year will be good for us. The format is different, so it is difficult to say what will happen. We have played well in this format, and hopefully if we can carry that [forward] it will be good for us."

Bangladesh whitewashed the visiting Windies side 2-0 in the Test series. Mortaza, though, pointed out that the tourists have game-changers in their ranks and the shorter formats of the game tend to suit the Caribbean side. Mortaza, who was short of match practice, also took part in the practice game for BCB's XI against the Windies XI. The Bangladesh captain said that the warm-up game helped him gain match-needed match practice and confidence.

"Still the ODIs haven't started so there is no point [in] thinking about a clean-sweep. But the first match is important so let's see what happens. In this format, one or two players can change the game and they [Windies] do have a few of them with that ability to destroy an opponent. We must keep that in our mind. So there is no way you can say what will happen in the three matches.

"But as the format gets shorter, they become more dangerous. So it is better to keep the opening game in focus. There is no point [in] thinking apart from the opening match. The wicket [for the first ODI] will be definitely different from the practice game and chasing 300 is very rare on this wicket. But the main thing is that we gained confidence from the practice game but the real work starts from now," he said.

Tamim Iqbal, who returned to top-flight action after recovering from a couple of injuries, also played in the practice game, scoring a hundred. Shakib Al Hasan, the veteran all rounder, who missed a large part of the Asia Cup due to his troublesome finger injury, also makes a comeback into the ODI set-up. The Bangladesh Test captain played in the just-concluded Test rubber versus the Windies, snaring nine scalps.

Mortaza noted that despite Tamim cracking a century in the practice game, it perhaps would take time for the explosive opener to get into his groove. "Naturally, the return of Shakib and Tamim is an advantage for us. It is a relief for Tamim as he played well in the practice game. But at the same time, it takes time to perform after coming from an injury.

"You can expect that because Tamim scored a century in the practice [match], he will play extraordinarily tomorrow but that might not be the case. He can even play better or can play badly. What I want to say is that it takes time to play your best cricket after coming from an injury. He was probably out for two and a half months. It is a relief for us as both are available," he added.

Mortaza also shared his views about the dew factor coming into play. He said that the think tank has tended to play three or even four pacers by duly taking the conditions and their recent record into consideration. "How much dew will be on the field, and how that will impact the match, it will matter a lot in Day-Night matches. Dew factor can play a big role at this time of the year. But, it is true that our pacers are backing up well. If you see since 2015, we have been playing with three pacers and sometimes, we have even played with four pacers."

Mortaza, who made his ODI debut way back in 2001, is also set to play his 200th ODI. The redoubtable cricketer has had his fair share of injuries, but the seasoned campaigner waded through troubled times to pick up 252 ODI wickets. The 35-year-old said that it feels good to achieve the milestone but his main focus was on starting the three-match ODI series on a winning note.

"Thank you for reminding me [200th ODI]. I didn't notice that. Winning the first match of the series is more important to me instead of these things [milestones]. But, it feels good that I am going to play my 200th ODI for Bangladesh. People will remember me in future saying that you have played 200 ODIs for Bangladesh. That will [make me] feel better. But to me, there is nothing [more] important than the first match of the series. We have to win the game."

Daily Bangladesh/Sohug

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