With arguably the two most important cricketers in Bangladesh – Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal – ruled out by the time they faced Pakistan in a do-or-die Asia Cup game on Wednesday, Bangladesh drew on wartime philosophy to emerge victorious against the odds.
“[Skipper] Mashrafe [Bin Mortaza] bhai told us one thing and we talked about one thing: when at war, you don’t look back,” said player-of-the-match Mushfiqur Rahim after the 37-run win over the two-time champions at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. “So if you think ‘I am going to war and I will try to play it safe’, that won’t work.
“Either kill or be killed -- one or the other. So that was a huge inspiration, because when you are at war you don’t look at who your captain is, who’s there or not there.”
Mushfiqur was at the centre of the conflict, rescuing the side from the precarious position of 12 for three after Bangladesh won the toss and lifting them to 239 all out with a magnificent 99, becoming the first Bangladesh batsman to be out one short of a century in international cricket.
Bangladesh’s highest run-scorer Tamim had already gone back to Dhaka on September 18 with a left-hand fracture sustained in the tournament’s opening game against Sri Lanka. Shakib, meanwhile, was ruled out of the match because of a flare-up of a lingering finger injury picked up in January this year. He was subsequently sent home and will undergo surgery in either Melbourne or New York in the near future.
But the calamitous setbacks only brought out the warriors in the Tigers.
“You have to fight 100 per cent with what you have. So we thought that if we give our 100 per cent without thinking about the result, then, God willing, we will win as the best team. There will come a time when I won’t be there -- no one is there forever. The five of us [seniors Mashrafe, Shakib, Tamim, Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah Riyad] will not be there at one point but even then you have to go on. So this was the talk and everyone was pumped up from there.”