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Old February 8, 2009, 04:43 PM
rashed411 rashed411 is offline
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I'm excited to play in Shah Rukh’s team: Mortaza

MUMBAI: One wonders whether Bangladesh pacer Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has a hotline to the Almighty. The stocky 25-year-old was offering Friday namaaz at a Dhaka mosque in the afternoon.

Minutes after his prayers, some of Mortaza’s friends called and gave him the news that the Shah Rukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders had won a tough bid (lasting nearly 40 minutes) for the Bangladeshi and he was sold at a whopping $600,000 (roughly Rs 3 crore), making him the most expensive from his country.

That’s a good deal more than what he makes playing for Bangladesh. "I earn about 1 crore taka per annum when I wear my country’s colours. The IPL contract will fetch me about 4.20 cr takas."

The man who was responsible for India’s ouster from the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies is all excited about his sojourn across the border to Kolkata.

"Yes. It’ll be my second home for some time now. I have never played at the Eden Gardens. I’m looking forward to playing there." Apart from playing in front of a volatile and passionate crowd, the movie buff is also keen to meet the emperor of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan.

"I’m excited to play in Shah Rukh’s team. I like Indian movies a lot."

Life has indeed come a full circle for the cricketer, who is currently ranked eighth amongst bowlers in the ICC ODI rankings. Mortaza was almost snatched away by the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and he too could have fallen to the temptation just like other illustrious players namely, Habibul Bashar, Aftab Ahmed and Alok Kapali, who joined the Dhaka Warriors. How did he resist it?

"I never thought of money. I always wanted to play for the country and do better. ICL had approached me several times. I was offered about 10 crore takas, but my parents, other family members and friends were against me joining ICL. Everyone wanted me to play for Bangladesh."

There’ll be plenty riding on Mortaza now that Pakistan seamers Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul have been ruled out. But he is not fazed.

"If I get a chance to play in the main team, like always I’ll give my best. I’m looking forward to playing under Sourav Ganguly," he said.

The IPL will also be a time for Mortaza to meet some of his friends in the Indian team. "I was at MRF Pace Foundation in 2002, for about one-and-half months. So I know Sree Santh, RP Singh and Irfan Pathan well. They are friends."

But who does he look upto? "Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh. Oder moton aar keu neyi (There isn’t anyone like them)," he says.

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