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July 21, 2006
Khaled Mashud, Bangladesh's veteran wicketkeeper, has welcomed the challenge of a second wicketkeeper during the forthcoming ODI tours of Zimbabwe and Kenya. A regular behind the stumps for the last decade, Mashud was confident of what he could bring to the table despite the presence of the young Mushfiqur Rahim and criticism of his batting recently.
"I don't think my position in the team is at stake," he said. "I will definitely welcome if anybody throws a real challenge to me. Do you honestly think there is anybody who can replace me now? Yes, there is a whispering about my position ahead of the tours but I am not worried.
"I want to clear one thing that I will not stay for a single day in the national team if everybody thinks that I have very little left to serve the side," Mashud added. "I don't want to stay without respect. It's my lifelong dream to say goodbye international cricket with my head high."
He hinted, though, that the selectors' decision to include two wicketkeepers for just eight ODIs was an indecisive one. "It is not my duty to comment on team selection. The selectors must have some plan and only they can say better," he said. "I think if any new boy is to be tested it should have been done during a relatively easier home series against Kenya. However, you can't reach a conclusion about someone's potential after watching him against a team like Zimbabwe and Kenya because the real challenge always lies against the big teams."
Mashud, with 41 Tests and 112 one-day internationals, has been widely recognised as a committed cricketer. However, a recent dip in form with the bat, at both the domestic and international levels, has raised voices over his importance in the side. He admitted his batting against Australia recently was not his best but refused to call the curtain on his contributions to the side. "I don't think my batting was very poor," he said. "I failed to serve against Australia but how many were successful against the number one team? Nowadays wicketkeepers play a very important part as an allrounder and I also need to perform."
Mashud's own expectations of the upcoming series remained simple. "I am determined to perform well during the series. I know performance is the key to keep my place in the team," he said. "If I can perform, nobody will dare dropping me. In my career I have played for small clubs on most occasions and that have not played any part behind my selection for the national team. I was picked because of the performance."
© 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
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?