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July 30, 2009
Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh captain, has said he would happily step down and let Shakib Al Hasan continue leading the side if the board so wanted. Bangladesh board director Jala Yunus said Shakib, who led Bangladesh to their first Test series win over West Indies and a 2-0 lead in the one-dayers in the absence of the injured Mortaza, was a "serious contender" for the captain's post.
"It's not so common that someone suddenly gets an opportunity and capitalises on it with both hands but I think Shakib showed that rare quality in the tour," Mortaza told the Dhaka-based Daily Star. "It's my bad luck that I couldn't lead the team in the series but it's really encouraging for our cricket that we have discovered someone like Shakib."
Mortaza said he did not want to comment on his own future as captain till he recovered from his knee injury that forced him to leave the field during the first Test. "I don't know when I will be able to return to cricket and I am looking forward to the suggestion of my doctor [David Young]," Mortaza said.
Apart from performing well as a captain, Shakib has also been successful as an allrounder on this tour. He was Bangladesh's leading wicket-taker in the Tests, with 13 at 18.76 and scored 159 runs. He scored 119 and picked up two wickets in the first two ODIs.
According to Mortaza, Shakib was currently the No. 1 spinner in Bangladesh. "He [Shakib] already showed his quality as a captain and I don't find anything wrong if Shakib continues as captain though it's up to the board," Mortaza said. "The most important quality for a captain is that he should be a performer in the team and there is no question about Shakib's showings. You see he has been scoring consistently against different opposition since he made his international debut and he is a good fielder. But above everything it's his bowling which is really top-class."
However Bangladesh's series win has come against a second-string West Indies side that was picked after the main squad staged a boycott over contracts. Mortaza said playing a depleted West Indies side had helped but said it was a challenge to perform consistently regardless of the opposition. "And I think he [Shakib] showed something as a captain which helped the team to win the game," Mortaza said. "It may be too early to make the final comments on his captaincy but there is something encouraging. I hope under his captaincy the team will also continue their success in Zimbabwe and I will never mind if the board wants to continue this flow with him."
Yunus, who is also the Bangladesh board's media committee chairman, said Shakib had a good chance to retain the captaincy. "We are impressed at the way he led the team in the absence of Mashrafe," Yunus said. "It's bad luck for Mashrafe but Shakib took the opportunity brilliantly.
"The board of directors will take the final decision but there is no question that Shakib will be a serious candidate. We have to sit again after the Zimbabwe tour to appoint a new captain because Mashrafe has been given the job for only two series ([Indies and Zimbabwe]."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa