Some called him the most interviewed non-playing cricketer in the World Cup and some called the missing Tiger. But whatever one says about him, the former Bangladesh skipper remained the most sought-after cricketer to the Indian media on Friday ahead of their World Cup opening match against Bangladesh.
The reason is simple. The only two times Bangladesh defeated India in their 22 meetings, the tall, robust paceman from Narail did the main damage.
Even despite the heroics of Tamim Iqbal, the calm half-centuries by Sakib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafee was the man of the match the last time the two teams met in a World Cup match.
His consistent performance against the Indians left them so obsessed that they did not bother to pay him $6,00,000 in an IPL season and always thought he will be the key if Bangladesh are to beat India at any stage.
Injury took a toll on him and forced him out of this World Cup but still the Indians were worried about him. They know he is getting fit with every passing day and can anytime be recalled to the side if any player gets injured.
So when it was rumoured that Bangladesh are trying to prove fellow paceman Rubel Hossain unfit and induct Mashrafee into the side before the opener, the big army of Indian media started running after it.
They all heaved a sigh of relief when finally it proved to be a false rumour and were happy to talk to Mashrafee about his memories of the World Cup match against India.
Even India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was relieved to know that Mashrafee is not a part of Bangladesh’s World Cup squad.
‘He won’t be man of the match this time for sure,’ Dhoni joked in his pre-match press conference.
However, it was not also all about a joke.
His pain for not being able to do what he does best also touched many who were present at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
‘I personally am very disappointed as I cannot play despite being matchfit. The way I am bowling in the nets I am feel I am fit,’ said Mashrafee.
‘But I wish our team a very good luck at the World Cup. Those who are playing in my absence are also good,’ said Mashrafee, who is always known as a very good team-man.
Aminul Islam, who led Bangladesh in their first World Cup in 1999, also said his absence would be felt.
‘Early breakthrough is a very important thing in shorter versions of cricket. Mashrafee is very successful on that count,’ said Aminul
‘An experienced pacer like him was much needed in this crucial period.
‘It’s very unfortunate that Mashrafee is not in the squad. I will miss him a lot but there is nothing to do with injury,’ added Aminul.