Bangladesh v Australia, 1st ODI, Mirpur April 8, 2011

Mortaza ready for action, says Shakib

Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh seamer, has cleared himself to play against Australia in the three-match limited overs series starting on Saturday in Mirpur, his captain Shakib Al Hasan has said.

A combination of fitness issues and the poor health of his wife had left 27-year-old Mortaza a doubtful starter for quite some time after he missed the World Cup with a knee problem. But Shakib indicated on the eve of the first ODI that Mortaza was allowed to make up his own mind about participating in the series, and had chosen to stay.

"He decided he'll be staying with the team and he'll be part of this series," Shakib told reporters at the Shere Bangla Stadium.

There could be plenty of difficulty in all this for Mortaza, as whispers of board pressure have also swirled around his presence in the squad.

"I think it would not be wise to talk about the issue now. What I can say is that I am honest in my position. It would be good not to make public what happened before the selection," Mortaza said this week in response to questions about whether he had been consulted prior to selection.

"I'm giving 100% in my bowling and it's not as if I was far away from my standard. But it could have been much better if I got at least one more week for preparation. Physio (Michael Henrry) also told me that I need a few more days for gaining full fitness.

"Because of family problems I was out of touch for almost 40 days which made it difficult for me to regain full fitness. As a player I want to play this series but I have to think about my team also."

As for the series, which forms an odd little postscript to unsuccessful World Cup campaigns for both sides, Shakib refrained from any bold statements. "I don't think it will be easier for them, it will be always a hard game," he said of Australia. "The three matches we're playing will be very competitive. I'm not putting any number, or whether we'll win any games or not.

"I think it will be a very competitive series."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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