Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh allrounder, has reacted to criticism about his performance in the first two ODIs against Zimbabwe by calling for more match practice following his return to the national team from injury. Mortaza is yet to take a wicket in the series, and has bowled nine overs for 53 in two games that have been dominated by spinners.
"True, it's not ideal conditions for pace bowlers, but still we could not bowl on the right areas," Mortaza told reporters in Dhaka on the eve of the third ODI. "Actually our bowling is totally spin oriented in the series as the Zimbabwean batsmen have a weakness against the slower bowlers.
"I hardly got any chance to play in the last 17 months due to injuries one after another, so I need some time to get my rhythm back and I believe things will get better only if I keep playing matches. I'm very confident about my comeback."
Mortaza said the over reliance on spinners could not continue for long. "I also believe that the scenario will be totally different when we play against the big teams because you can't depend only on the spinners against them."
Mortaza was out of action for a while due to an ankle injury that ruled him out of the series against New Zealand, which Bangladesh won 4-0. Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, admitted Mortaza had been below-par on his comeback. "He was rusty and looked a bit down. He could not bowl according to his capability and I think he needs some more matches. He will come back."
Ian Pont, the Bangladesh bowling coach, was confident about Mortaza as well. "In the nets, everything looks good; but in matches, it's not so. But it's always difficult [making a comeback], because as a fast bowler you lose your rhythm and timing. Sometimes you lose a bit of confidence, and you can have two thousand nets, but that does not always mean that you will do well in the middle.
"I think Mash will be disappointed with himself. I think he's admitted that he is a bit disappointed. But he will come back strong, he's been a great bowler for Bangladesh, and he has a lot of talent, he's very clever, and he's one of our better fast bowlers."
The five-match series between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe is currently tied 1-1.