'We now have a base for T20s'
Despite ending their ICC World Twenty20 campaign on a rather sour note in Kolkata -- the Tigers were bundled out for 70 by New Zealand, their lowest ever T20I score -- Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza believes that the team had made immense progress in T20 cricket in the last three months.
They reached the final of the Asia Cup and they almost beat India on the biggest stage; these are experiences, according to Mashrafe, that have instilled a new sense of belief in the Bangladeshi team.
“I still feel disappointed that we failed to win the close matches against Australia and India. This was a group in which every team had the ability to reach the semifinals and we had expected to win at least two matches. We were close but we couldn't finish,” Mashrafe told reporters at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport upon the team's return home yesterday morning.
“But we also have to see the positive aspect, which is something I don't think anyone wants to see right now. I think we have managed to create a base for our T20 cricket. The players now have a strong mindset. They believe that no matter who they play against, they can beat their opposition as long as they don't commit small mistakes. We believe that we can beat any side now and that's something we didn't have in T20s before,” he added.
Apart from playing in a tough group, Mashrafe and Co faced problems with their team selection as well. Both Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny were suspended for their bowling actions. To make matters worse, Tamim Iqbal could not play the game against Australia due to sickness.
These were moments that Mashrafe described as extremely crucial during the World Cup.
“When all three of them didn't play for us against Australia, it became a bit difficult because they were all in form. But the good thing is that we came back in the game against India,” explained Mashrafe.
“If you talk particularly about Sunny, then I will say that we accepted his report because his level was different, but regarding Taskin it was shocking for us,” said Mashrafe while elaborating on the Taskin saga; something that had actually seen him break down at one point.
“The team management, several players from outside, none of them thought that he had a problem. So eventually when his action was found illegal we contacted the BCB [Bangladesh Cricket Board] and tried to find out if there was anything they could do.
“In his last eight matches he had the world's best economy rate and to lose a player like him would have obviously been difficult. We had made several plans surrounding him, and that's why it got more difficult,” he added.
Towards the end, Mashrafe urged Bangladesh's fans not to give up on the Tigers.
“They have always been with us even during hard times. I understand that they are disappointed and so are we. But I will hope that they will, despite feeling bad, continue supporting us so that we can win tougher contests ahead. I believe that these players that we have can give us much better times than we are going through right now,” said Mashrafe.