He is barely able to run without a grimace, wears a brace to hold up his creaking knees and walks gingerly between overs, but Mashrafe Mortaza refuses to give up on Bangladesh at the World Cup.
The 31-year-old captain and pace spearhead has led from the front as the Tigers celebrated their greatest World Cup moment—a place in the quarter-finals for the first time after Monday night’s 15-run win over England in Adelaide.
The only other time Bangladesh went beyond the first round was in 2007 in the Caribbean, but that was into the round-robin Super Eights following a remarkable win over India in the league stage.
It will probably be defending champions India again that Bangladesh meet in the quarter-final at the gigantic Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 19, and Mortaza will eagerly await the challenge ahead.
It was his four-wicket haul at Port of Spain that sent India crashing out in 2007, reserving his best against a star-studded side that included captain Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
Mortaza was forced to miss the last World Cup, co-hosted by Bangladesh along with India and Sri Lanka, due to a knee injury—one of the many he has endured in his 14-year-career.
Mortaza has missed more matches than he has played due to various leg, knee and ankle injuries. At the last count, he has been sidelined 11 times due to injuries and undergone surgery seven times over the last decade.
He has modified his bowling action to lessen the burden on his legs, but the desperation to play and do well for Bangladesh means he has been unable to rest his body for long periods.