Mortaza sent home

Bangladesh's tour of Sri Lanka, already in considerable disarray following the ODI whitewash and the Mohammad Rafique controversy, has received a further blow. Mashrafe Mortaza, their leading strike bowler, has been sent home with a persistent back injury three days before the start of the first Test.

According to The Daily Star, a Dhaka-based daily, a bone scan revealed no fracture but indicated an early stage of stress reaction in his lower back. Paul Close, the team physiotherapist, told reporters, "The injury has been detected early. Therefore the rehabilitation for his injury is expected to take between six and twelve weeks. There are three or four stages to a fracture and `stress reaction' is the first stage. So, we are confident of his full recovery over this timeframe."

Mortaza has bowled only one over on tour so far, in a practice one-day match but has been sidelined since suffering from back pain. Since making his debut against Zimbabwe in 2001, Bangladesh's leading fast bowler has suffered a succession of shattering injuries. Against England in 2003, Moshrafe picked up a ligament injury that kept him out of the game for over a year and caused him to reduce his pace on his return.

A despondent Mortaza told the newspaper, "This is the sixth time I'll have to leave the team in the middle of a series. Still, I am happy that there is no fracture. At first, I thought something really bad happened this time. But I am relieved now. If there was a fracture, coming back would have needed much time. I have missed this series, but it's good to know that I won't miss something big in future."