Before the World Cup began skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza did his best to lower expectations of Bangladesh's fevered fan base but less than halfway through Bangladesh's World Cup campaign, it is the captain who is bearing the brunt of high expectations.
After three completed matches there has already been criticism of Mashrafe's bowling as Bangladesh's highest ODI wicket-taker has taken just one wicket from 21 overs while giving away 149 runs. The ever-popular Narail cricketer was the toast of Bangladesh cricket lovers less than a month ago, when he led the country to their first ODI multi-team win in Ireland.
Bangladesh bowling coach Courtney Walsh yesterday spoke out in favour of the captain.
"We all know Mashrafe is a fighter. He has a slight niggle," Walsh told reporters in Taunton, referring to the hamstring injury Mashrafe picked up during the warm-up match against India on May 28. "He has delivered good spells. We have to look after him pretty well. He is determined to lead the country up front. I think it is still early days."
Among Bangladesh's pacers, his economy rate of 7.09 runs per over is actually less than that of Mustafizur Rahman and Mohammad Saifuddin. He was the most expensive bowler in the first game against South Africa with his six wicketless overs, but in the last game against England he was the second-most economical with one for 68 from 10 overs as England hammered 386 for six. As captain he could have been satisfied with giving away just 50 runs in nine overs during the run fest, but he bit the bullet and bowled the last over, which was hammered for 18.
"Obviously the fans want win, win, win; that's not the case," Walsh said. "We lost two games and one was rained out. If we can string a few wins together, I think they will see the depth of the team. Mash has a couple of days off, so that will help. He'll be in a better place."