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Shakib eyes Bangladesh elections

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BANGLADESHI cricket superstar Shakib Al Hasan has formally entered politics, seeking a nomination from the ruling Bangladesh Awami League to run in the upcoming general election on January 7.

Awami League joint secretary general Bahauddin Nasim told AFP that Shakib took nomination forms last Saturday (18) from the party to contest in three constituencies in the election.

The polls are set to be boycotted by major opposition parties.

“He is a celebrity and has great popularity among the country’s youth,” Nasim said, welcoming the cricket all-rounder.

Shakib’s candidature has to be confirmed by a ruling party parliamentary board headed by prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

He hopes to contest a seat either in his southwestern home district of Magura, or in the capital Dhaka, Nasim said. Hasina has led the South Asian country of around 170 million people for the past 15 years and has been accused of ruling with an iron fist. She is seen as almost certain to return to power for a fourth time if the opposition boycott goes ahead. Hasina has overseen impressive economic growth, but Western nations have sounded the alarm over democratic backsliding and she has been accused by the opposition of voterigging at the past two polls.

Turning to politics is nothing new for cricketers in south Asia, where the sport is massively popular. Doing so during a playing career, however, is rare.

But former cricket captain Mashrafe Mortaza joined politics in 2018 and was elected as a lawmaker from the ruling party in the same year. He led Bangladesh in the 2019 World Cup before giving up the sport to focus on politics.

Shakib, Bangladesh’s regular captain in all three formats, is currently nursing a finger injury, which has forced him to skip the forthcoming Test series against New Zealand. He suffered the injury during a match in the World Cup against Sri Lanka, when he made headlines after an unusual appeal against Angelo Mathews, which resulted in international cricket’s first ever timed out.

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