Bangladeshi cricket captain Shakib Al Hasan has ventured into politics after seeking a nomination from the ruling Bangladesh Awami League in order to participate in the upcoming general elections on January 7.
Shakib took nomination forms on Saturday from the party to contest in three constituencies in the election, according to Awami League joint secretary general Bahauddin Nasim.
However, the elections are set to be boycotted by country’s major opposition parties.
"He is a celebrity and has great popularity among the country´s youth," Nasim told AFP.
Shakib´s candidature also got the nod from the 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 vote-rigging 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.
— Additional input from AFP