Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza has hailed his team for coming this far despite being hit by injuries time and again in this Asia Cup, and believes one stellar performance can make their journey memorable. Bangladesh will take on pre-tournament favourite India in the final on Friday (September 28) and will look forward to capitalize on the momentum that they have gathered in the tournament on the back of unified effort in the absence of key players Tamim Iqbal and Sakib al Hasan.
If losing Tamim Iqbal in the opening game was a bad start, ruling out of half-fit Shakib made it worse. The all-rounder returned home to tend to the finger injury hes been carrying for long.
The misery does not stop there as Bagladeshs leading run-scorer Mushfiqur Rahim has been under a bit of scanner after being hit in the rib cage during the practice session ahead of the opening game. Add to that the many niggles different members of the team are carrying, made all the worse by heat and humidity in the United Arab Emirates.
We came through difficult situation like losing one player after another and doubt whether Mushfiq will play or not play and in that sense they really have learnt a lot, Mortaza said ahead of the final. It was a great lesson for the boys. I think young players will learn that we must continue our fight till the last ball.
"It was really hard, because there was no cricketer like Shakib-Tamim," Mortaza added. Shakib was fifty percent fit from the beginning [of the tournament].
We didnt have Tamim from the first match. The good part is, the boys havent been disappointed. They kept fighting. Although we lost to Afghanistan in the group stage and to [India in the Super Four], still I will say they fought."
Mortaza believe that if his team can check the emotions and keep the pressure on like they have done in the tournament at different junctures, then it is not impossible to beat India.
So far we are proud. But we have to handle our emotions especially before the final match," Mortaza said. How we fight against them [India] is very important for us. They undoubtedly are the best team. But we will see tomorrow what our options are and whether we can fight with it,."
According to Mortaza, losing Shakib ahead of the final remains a huge concern as it is difficult to earn the same balance with their the premier all-rounder not around.
We wouldnt have to worry if Shakib was there. But now things are different without Shakib. We are trying to see how things can be done. I saw the wicket here only for a day [when we played against Sri Lanka].
When they [India] played against Pakistan, it was a flat wicket. But when they played against Afghanistan, Nabi, Rashid or Mujeeb were getting enough turn. So there is a mixed reaction regarding the wicket. No matter what kind of wicket is available we have to adapt to it and play, Mortaza said.
The Bangladesh captain added that the top order failure remained a kind of a headache for them all through their journey and it is something they are really having a good look at.
The first ten overs are easier for scoring runs rather than the ones between the 10th and the 40th," Mortaza argued. "It takes us much time to settle in because of our quick wicket-losses.
"If we keep losing wickets in this manner, it becomes an additional pressure for the middle-order.The middle order wont play well every time. Hopefully, the top-order will click and if that doesnt happen, they [the middle-order] will have to play, Mortaza said.
Maybe tomorrow you can see someone who never opened before. So were ready for everything. You should also be ready, he added indicating middle-order batsman Ariful Haque, who is known for his explosive exploits, might be tried out against India.
Mortaza added that if they can score around 260 to 270 runs they can make a game out of it against India.
This is the first very time [in this tournament] that I have seen a beautiful match. Mushfiq and Mithun were great in batting and Miraj and Mustafiz in bowling, said Mortaza.
The body language during fielding inspired the bowlers are motivated there, [we] turned the match there. It is not like a bowler comes in running and throws the ball; its a team game.
If the fielders field well and save some runs, the bowlers get more motivated. It seems the boys are learning that and this is a great lesson.
If we can score 260-270 against India it will be a fighting total. However, Im not saying that would be a winning total and if we bowl first, the lesser runs we can restrict them for, the better, he concluded.Cricbuzz.