Bangladesh one-day international skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza on Tuesday claimed that their triumph in the recently-concluded Ireland tri-series will not add to the weight of expectations on their shoulders for the forthcoming World Cup, claiming that the expectation would have been same regardless of the result in Ireland.
’Whether we have raised the expectation [for the World Cup] hardly matters anymore,’ Mashafee told reporters in Dhaka ahead of his departure for London to join the team in their World Cup preparations.
’Even if we had lost the tournament badly people would still be watching us with same kind of expectations. At least that is what my experience says after playing cricket for 18 to 20 years.
’There was a time when people used to watch whether we can play well or if some individuals can perform in the middle but that is not the case now. During the last five to seven years people come and watch us with expectations of us coming out victorious,’ he added.
Mashrafee led Bangladesh to their first multi-nation tournament victory in almost 22 years in Ireland against the hosts and West Indies, and they did it in convincing manner by crushing their opponents in all four of their matches.
Bangladesh’s win in Friday’s final over West Indies came as a relief for the players and fans alike as Bangladesh had failed to cross the finish line in their previous six finals.
Fears of their seventh straight defeat in tournament finals were setting in once they were set to chase a steep target of 210 off 24 overs against West Indies at Malahide in a rain-hit match, but whirlwind fifties from Soumya Sarkar and Mosaddek Hossain catapulted Bangladesh to a five-wicket win with seven balls to spare.
The win, Mashrafee hoped, would help them overcome their mental bloke regarding tournament finals’ and set the team up for a finish at the knockout stage of the World Cup.
’I think we have overcome the mental block as far as playing in the final is concerned… I am confident that we should reach the semi-finals and from then onwards it’s all up to who plays well on that particular day,’ Mashrafee said.
Mashrafee still didn’t want to equate his team’s success in Ireland as signs of imminent success in England, as he felt that the main tournament would be a much more difficult affair for the Tigers because of ultra-batting friendly conditions in England.
’All I can say is that the World Cup will be a different ball game. If you are following cricket in England you will see that runs are scored heavily. It will be certainly different as far as the approach is concerned,’ he said.
Bangladesh will have to face a difficult challenge in the opening week of their World Cup campaign, as they will kick-start their tournament against South Africa on June 2, then face last year’s finalists’ New Zealand on June 5 and then face hosts and tournament-favourite England on June 28.
Mashrafee acknowledged that it would be very difficult to pull off positive results from these encounters.
’It will be difficult for us because of our opponents in the opening three games are extremely strong and to earn a positive result against won’t be easy as they are used to those conditions,’ he said.
The 35-year old admitted that it would have been better for Bangladesh if they could’ve begun the
competition with slightly easier opponents but claimed to be excited for the challenge.
’It would have been helpful for us if it [tournament schedule] was a little bit different. Nonetheless, there will be a different kind of satisfaction if we can come out and win those battles. We are excited to experience that feeling,’ Mashrafee said.