To do as Romans do when in Rome may be the received wisdom, but Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza insisted that doing as Englishmen do in England is not the way to success in their World Cup campaign, which they will kick off today with a match against South Africa at The Oval. Mashrafe had a simple outlook: be it in batting, bowling or team selection, Bangladesh would have to march to the beat of their own drum.
Top-ranked England have led the way in pushing run boundaries and in recent summers, and matches in England have regularly produced totals in excess of 350. In the first four World Cup matches so far, South Africa were shot out for 207, Pakistan for 105, Sri Lanka for 136 and Afghanistan for 207. Mashrafe opined that it was the ghost of scorecards past that drove such batting failures and wanted his team to follow the formula they have been adhering to at home and abroad over a largely successful four years.
"Every team is thinking that they can't win here if they don't score 350. With that mentality, they are charging from the start, and they lose wickets," Mashrafe said. "So for us it is important not to lose early wickets. We have to fight with what we can do, by sticking to a plan that we had success with in Bangladesh. If we just look at the wicket, charge early and lose wickets in fear of not scoring big runs -- I don't think there is a need to take that pressure. We have to make sure that we create partnerships, that the one who gets set is able to play the maximum overs."
For Mashrafe, homegrown solutions extend to the bowling as well.
"The wicket here won't play like in Bangladesh; it won't break as much or become as slow. If there is help it will be minimal, but that won't mean that they [spinners] will get three-four wickets; if they do then that would be very good. The important thing is to bowl well as a group with the five or six bowlers that we have, which is difficult because one bowler can be expensive -- that's part of the game. But if we can hold on to our positions and create pressure, maybe we will get breakthroughs -- normally that is our strength. I don't think we can do well in this tournament if we stray outside our area of strength."
With even bench players performing in the victorious tri-series campaign in Ireland, there are calls for some last-minute inclusions, but Mashrafe was having none of that.
"Players have played well after getting a chance, but that doesn't mean that you have to throw your plans out the window. There is no sense unsettling the team. It is important to create the eleven according to the plans that we had. One of our problems is that we want to push whoever did well into the eleven without considering the position. It is important to maintain the mindset with which we came. If those we were thinking of for the first eleven are in form, I don't think there is much to think about."