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Mortaza: Will miss Eden

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By Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 5.04.09

Calcutta: Bangladesh speedster Mashrafe bin Mortaza, who has been recruited by Kolkata Knight Riders for the second season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), said Saturday that his inclusion in the Shah Rukh Khan-owned side would increase the IPL’s fan following in Bangladesh.

He said the first edition of the tournament was also very popular in his country.

“He (Shah Rukh) is very popular in Bangladesh. I’m very happy to get a chance in his team. Last year people preferred IPL to international matches. Not just Bangladesh, the tournament was followed enthusiastically all over the world. Obviously, with me playing, the IPL’s fan following in Bangladesh will increase,” he said at a press conference.

The right-arm medium pacer rued the missed opportunity of playing in front of a capacity crowd at Eden Gardens as the IPL has been shifted to South Africa.

“We will miss playing in Kolkata. There would have been many supporters here to cheer us on. But at the same time, I feel the tournament will be equally successful in South Africa,” he said.

Mortaza hoped he would be able to take the responsibility of spearheading the pace department for the Knight Riders in the absence of Pakistani pacers Umar Gul and Shoaib Akhtar.

“I am confident about myself. I am sure it won’t be a problem to shoulder the responsibility of leading the attack. If I get a chance I will try to give my 100 per cent.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn from seniors. Rubbing shoulders with international cricketers will give me ample confidence,” the Bangladeshi player said. “I’ll take Dada’s (Sourav Ganguly) advice when I meet him face-to-face. I’m really excited about playing with him.”

The 26-year old Mortaza was bought for a whopping $600,000 by KKR in the IPL auction in February after a fierce bidding war with Kings XI Punjab.