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Bangladesh have named fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza as captain for the forthcoming tours of West Indies and Zimbabwe. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has decided to relieve Mohammad Ashraful of his captaincy duties to allow him to focus on his batting. Shakib Al Hasan, the world's No.1 allrounder in ODIs, has been named the vice-captain.
"The board wants to sincerely thank Mohammad Ashraful for his contribution as skipper," Mohammed Jalal Yunus, the BCB's Media & Communications Committee Chairman, said. "The decision to replace him was taken with the intention of relieving the load on Ashraful so that he can play his natural game.
"We all know his quality and what he is capable of as a batsman and we are confident that without the burden of captaincy his batting would flourish and he would contribute more to the team."
Bangladesh faced plenty of flak on returning home from the ICC World Twenty20 in England where they failed to qualify for the Super Eights. The under-fire Ashraful had insisted he had no plans of quitting the captaincy.
Ashraful took over the captaincy from Habibul Bashar in June 2007 at the age of 22, but his journey was far from smooth. In 38 ODIs under his leadership, Bangladesh managed to win only eight games, with a majority of those against the minnows. The significant victories were against Sri Lanka and New Zealand. The team also failed to win a Test under him, losing 12 out of 13. He also under-performed as a batsman in both forms, averaging 22.58 in Tests and 25.60 in ODIs.
Perhaps his most noteworthy contribution as captain was leading his team to the group stages of the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007. Despite that, Bangladesh won only two out of 11 games.
Mortaza has been Bangladesh's strike bowler over the last few years and has turned in match-winning performances in ODIs. His four-wicket haul all but knocked India out of the World Cup in 2007 and he returned similar figures in the team's only victory against New Zealand, in Mirpur last year.
The tour of West Indies begins on July 3 with a three-day match against West Indies A. The team will play two Tests, three ODIs and a Twenty20.