It was not just a defeat; it was a chastening one for Bangladesh in the second semifinal of the ICC Champions Trophy against India. India won the one-sided contest by nine wickets, chasing Bangladesh's modest total of 264 for seven.
The crushing defeat not only burst the emotional bubble that has been growing for the last few days in a most painful fashion, but also brought the Tigers down to earth. It was also a tough situation for any captain to confront the press.
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza however looked at the game as a missed opportunity.
“It could have been a big total. The way Tamim [Iqbal] and Mushfiqur [Rahim] were batting, we were heading for a big total. But once they were out to a part-time bowler we lost too many wickets in the middle overs. We were on top when they were batting and I thought we could have scored 330 to 340 if they were there,” said Mashrafe after the match.
He also said that they did not bowl well. “I think we did not bowl in the right areas. If you don't bowl in the right areas the short ball is not effective. If you concede one or two fours and then bowl that short delivery, that doesn't work because the batsman by that time feels on top,” Mashrafe observed.
He said that they knew it would be a difficult game but they started well and were not feeling any big-match pressure.
“The way Tamim and Mushfiqur batted and the way Sabbir started it showed that we were not feeling any pressure. But we lost our way in the middle of the game,” he said, adding that people always criticise you after a defeat.
He also defended the bowling unit, despite the Indian thrashing. “We have a good bowling attack. But sometimes it does not work, especially on this kind of wicket and bowling in the second half is always difficult. Yes, we will have to learn how to stop runs in such a difficult situation for the bowlers. It is always tough to bowl for wickets in these conditions and especially against a batting line-up like India,” Mashrafe said. “We will have to learn how to bowl in good areas on this kind of wicket and put pressure on the opposition.”
Asked who his tip to win the title is, he said: “It's a final and you can't predict which team will win the title. Both have played good cricket in the tournament so far and I wish both teams good luck.”
“I can't say why they went after a part-timer. Maybe they thought it would easier to go against a part-time bowler,” he said when asked if the shots played by Mushfiqur and Tamim were wise.
He said that Bangladesh have improved in terms of skill and technique.
“What we need is more mental maturity in this sort of situation. Once you are mentally ready, anything can be possible. It was a very disappointing result for us. We were in a situation in this game where we were controlling things, but like a few previous occasions we lost the momentum and never got it back,” the captain observed.
He also defended the non-performing young players. “It's easy to drop a player if he doesn't perform. But we will also have to think if we have enough quality replacement players. I think it won't be wise to go for drastic changes. We will have to groom what we have so they can get matured enough for the next World Cup,” he added.
When asked if he was still considering continuing till the 2019 World Cup, the 33-year-old Mashrafe said: “I've still not decided. Maybe, maybe not, I'm still enjoying my cricket. So that is where I stand at the moment.”