The smile on Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s face after collecting the trophy spoke volumes about the significance of the tri-series win in Ireland. It was the Tigers first-ever One-Day International tournament victory after falling short in six previous attempts. The skipper, however, could hardly revel in the win with his teammates as a flight back to Dhaka beckoned.
But before returning home on a four-day leave, the Bangladesh ODI captain sat down with bdnews24.com to reflect on the Tiger’s historic win in Ireland, past disappointments and the challenges that lie ahead at the World Cup.
You’ve had to cut your victory celebrations short in order to catch a flight. Don’t you wish you could spend a bit more time to celebrate the triumph?
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza: It obviously feels good to be around everyone in the team. The win was needed and we delivered. And while it is important to celebrate success, it’s even more important to focus on the challenges that lie ahead. The World Cup is a very difficult challenge.
I’ve spoken about returning to the country already. It’s important to be mentally sharp throughout a long tour. While travelling back and forth during this short break will be time-consuming, I still believe that spending two or three days with my family will do me some good. Apart from that, spending a few days at home during Ramadan will also give me some peace of mind.
What does winning this trophy mean to you?
Mashrafe: This is a big achievement for cricket in Bangladesh. It’s a big milestone. Even though it wasn’t a major tournament, the first win is always special. The fact that we lost several finals in a row makes it more special.
It’s important to remember that the country’s first trophy in international cricket was won by our women in the last Asia Cup. We had to wait for the men to deliver a trophy but we’ve finally achieved it now. Akram bhai, Bulbul bhai (former captains Akram Khan and Aminul Islam) had won the ICC Trophy 22 years ago. It was also a first taste of success at the time and a forms a major part of our history. But it feels good to be a part of a team which has made history as the country’s first men’s team to win an international trophy.
What about your feelings as a captain and personally as a cricketer?
Mashrafe: I’ve already described my feelings as a captain. It was a vital win for the team. As it relates to me personally….I don’t know. I don’t think there’s anything more to it. I’ll have to think about it.
Considering that the West Indies’ main team for the World Cup did not feature in the tournament while the other team involved was Ireland, didn’t that make Bangladesh the favourites to win the competition?
Mashrafe: We were expected to win tournaments before as well. The expectations were even greater at the tri-nation series (involving Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe) at home last year. But we failed to live up to it. You’ve all seen how difficult the conditions were over here. Even the Irish struggled to cope with the cold.
But performance always trumps expectations. We failed to perform in the previous finals. But all in all, it feels good considering the way we played in every game of the tournament and then the run chase in the final on top of that.
There was a five-hour rain delay in the final and had the match been called off, Bangladesh would have been crowned champions. What were your feelings during the stoppage?
Mashrafe: It’s very easy to answer that now! But to tell you the truth, I didn’t want us to become champions without playing. I didn’t want our first trophy to be won in that manner. And besides, every match before the World Cup is crucial. But in the end it all worked out for the best.
Speaking about the World Cup, you’ve previously talked about having big dreams for the tournament. Did this win solidify those dreams?
Mashrafe: No. You can say that it’s boosted our confidence and strengthened our self-belief. But it can’t be compared to the World Cup. The World Cup will be at least three times more challenging. It will be very difficult to maintain a rhythm over a long period of time while playing at different venues against different opposition in ever-changing conditions. There will be some ups and downs. Adjusting to these variables will be crucial.
Our task is made all the more difficult by the fact our first three matches are against teams that are very familiar with the wickets and conditions in England. If we lose these matches, it will be difficult to regain our form and confidence. All in all, the World Cup will be very challenging and that is to be expected. There is no easy path to success.