Even as everyone who witnessed the match were saying that beating Pakistan with the odds firmly stacked against Bangladesh was one of the country’s better cricketing achievements, player-of-the-match Mushfiqur Rahim insisted that it was just another match for them.
“It’s just another game of cricket. It’s nothing special to play against Pakistan or any team,” said Musfiqur after the 37-run win in their Asia Cup match in Abu Dhabi. “I think Afghanistan are a great team and also Sri Lanka, although they lost both their matches and they were knocked out from the group stage. But I still think they are a dangerous team because in January they beat us in our backyard.
“You can’t take any team for granted. It was just another game and we treated it like that. All the guys were spirited because it was a great chance to get to the final and hopefully we can make it to number one and end up winning.”
When reminded that Bangladesh were without the injured stalwarts Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal and still ended up winning against more-fancied opposition, Mushfiqur – who scored 99 in Bangladesh’s 239 all out -- softened his stance a little.
“Of course, this is just one match. Overall, if you think about everything -- it was really hot, we lost three wickets -- and want to take credit for all those then yes, it’s a special win,” he continued with a smile. “But I think it is just like another match, For sure, the match was in their [Pakistan’s] backyard and they know the conditions better than us. We all know how dangerous the Pakistan attack can be in these conditions because there is a bit of help for pace bowlers early on. So from that perspective it was an important win for us.
“And as you said, two or three players from our best 11 cannot play because of injury, so from that perspective I would say that all of us had to take a little extra responsibility. So Alhamdulillah, it was good in every way.”
Perhaps Mushfiqur was downplaying the importance because his eyes were set on something bigger – winning the final against India after having made the title match in two of the last three editions: losing against Pakistan in 2012 at home and against India in 2016, also at home.
They play the final against on Friday India, the form team of the tournament, having won comfortably against every opposition – including Bangladesh by seven wickets – until they rested a host of their first-choice players against Afghanistan on Tuesday, a game that ended in a thrilling tie.
“I think so, the confidence is there although I feel we haven’t played to our best yet in the three departments,” Mushfiqur said when asked if they have a chance against the top-ranked ODI side. “We have been struggling in the batting group in the top order. India are playing outstanding cricket in this tournament, but they are also human beings and they are bound to make mistakes. So I think if we can put up a good score on the board, we can probably pressure them. If we are chasing a good score, if we get a good start then hopefully we can pull it off. That’s one thing we hope we can achieve in this tournament.”