AFP/ PTI

I'm not another Imran Khan: Mashrafe Mortaza

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DHAKA: He may be Bangladesh's biggest cricket star, but Mashrafe Mortaza insists he is not another Imran Khan, Pakistan's cricketing superhero-turned-prime minister.

Contesting a seat in the national parliament for the ruling Awami League party in the December 30 elections, Mashrafe says he just wants to do more for sports and charity.

"To be honest, the level where Imran Khan has reached, people cannot always reach there even if they want to," Mashrafe told AFP in an interview.

"My desire is to do something for sports... since I am a sportsman, my wish is limited here. I will work for my region to see if I can do something good."

Mashrafe hails from the southwestern district of Narail where his charity Narail Express — also the fast-bowlers nickname — has donated ambulances to hospitals and high-yield rice seeds to farmers.

Turning to politics is nothing new for cricketers in South Asia, where the sport is massively popular.

But unusually, Mashrafe is still playing, captains Bangladesh in the one-day format of the game, and intends to lead the team at next year's World Cup.

Mashrafe has already retired from T20 international cricket and has not played a Test match since 2009.

He may also have been upstaged in the hearts of the nation's cricket fans by his teammate Shakib Al Hasan, one of the world's leading all-rounders.

But Mashrafe's die-hard attitude off the pitch — he has had seven operations on his knee — and on-field expressions of patriotism could well endear him to voters.

He also won plaudits as captain, guiding the cricket minnows to their first World Cup quarter-final in 2015.

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