Mortaza’s men finished their campaign in the quarter-finals, but can look to the future with optimism while building on the gains from this tournament
Prior to the match against England, Bangladesh had picked up a 105-run win against Afghanistan before sharing points with Australia on account of a washed out match. It conceded a 92-run win to Sri Lankabefore pulling off the second-highest chase in World Cup history against Scotland.
Addressing the media after the win against England, Mashrafe Mortaza, the captain, acknowledged the importance of the win in the context of the growth of Bangladesh cricket. “Yeah, it was a good win. I would say it’s a great turn for us,” he had said. “If I go back, I think our problem was a lack of consistency, but in this World Cup, two out of these five matches we have been very consistent, and hopefully it will keep going for the next few matches. Obviously the boys are really happy and hope that is one of the best turns for us and the Bangladesh cricket will move from here.”
Bangladesh’s players hadn’t had too much exposure to playing in Australia and New Zealand, but they showed that they were up for the challenge of unfamiliar conditions.
“Yeah, definitely it is significant for us. Back home people are expecting that we can go through, but we know how difficult it was in Australia because normally we never played in those kind of pitches, like Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide,” Mortaza said. “So it was very difficult. But the boys have been very confident. They have been working hard. I think it’s really helpful for us the way they are working hard.”
While Mahmudullah shone with a century, Rubel Hossain turned out to be the hero with the ball against England, producing two superb deliveries under pressure to seal his team’s spot in the last eight.
“He (Rubel) has been fantastic the last one and a half years, I think. The way he’s bowling, it’s nice to see from mid-on or mid-off,” Mortaza had said.
Rubel showed that he was capable of hitting speeds in the high 140 clicks on a consistent basis, and with the ability to swing the ball, he was a vital cog in Bangladesh’s pace battery. “He’s swinging the ball, he’s bowling fast, and I’m really happy that he takes all the pressure on his shoulder and delivers from the start, and hopefully — and I should mention that he was under tremendous pressure before coming in this World Cup. He put the pressure aside and showed his performance, and the whole world has seen how good he is. Hopefully he will continue.”
Though it lost to New Zealand by three wickets, Bangladesh put up another good show and headed into thequarterfinal clash against India on the back of some good form.
“We definitely have to bowl well. It is the biggest challenge to bowl to Indian batsmen. Also, I think the Indian bowlers have done pretty well. I think we have to bat as well as we did against New Zealand or England,” Mortaza had said ahead of the game.
Bangladesh’s bowlers showed great control in the first half of India’s innings after the latter had elected to bat. However, some classy batting towards the back end of the innings meant India posted a total in excess of 300 and eventually won the match. However, Bangladesh had several positives to take away from its campaign.
While Rubel turned heads with his raw pace, the likes of Taskin Ahmed were also impressive. Mortaza led from the front, while Shakib Al Hasan proved why he is a reliable performer.
With the bat, Mahmudullah showed that he can be relied upon in crunch situations with his twin centuries and became his country’s first World Cup centurion.
“I think except today batters have batted really well throughout this tournament, which is much needed for us, and hopefully they’ll continue because a very tough year is coming for us, one. And I think the confidence we got, hopefully it will continue,” Mortaza said after the defeat to India.
Reflecting on the performance of his team, Mortaza expressed pride at leading a promising bunch of players and looked ahead to the future with the bright hope that his team could convert the experience gained into even better results.
“It was brilliant tournament for us… most of the players in our side from 2008, we haven’t (played) any cricket in Australia, so it was a really (tough) ask for us. But the way the boys sussed up the wicket and conditions, I feel very proud as the captain of this team, and hopefully our boys will take it in the next series.”