‘We were playing catch-up’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 03, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:55 AM, July 03, 2019

‘We were playing catch-up’

After shaking hands with the Indian cricketers, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza ambled about towards the presentation ceremony, looking around at the emptying ground in Edgbaston. Having announced that this would be his last World Cup, perhaps the skipper was taking in the feeling of the remnants of a campaign that still meant something mere minutes ago. For someone who fronts up to the press after losses as a matter of routine, coach Steve Rhodes's presence at the post-match media conference in Mashrafe's stead was ample evidence of Mashrafe's acute disappointment.

"There's a lot of disappointed cricketers in the changing room," Rhodes said after the 28-run loss. "We were desperate to do well in this competition and try and take it further. Ultimately, today wasn't to be. We played against a good team, a side that are, I think, currently ranked Number 1 in the world."

Much like their campaign, Bangladesh kept hopes alive late into the match, but Rhodes felt that they had left themselves too much to do after a poor start to the match in which Tamim Iqbal dropped eventual centurion Rohit Sharma and the bowlers could not make inroads into a weaker middle order till the 39th over.

"We pushed through, but I think we made some early mistakes, and I think you need to get out of the blocks really well against a team like India," Rhodes said when asked where they lost the match. "We were playing catch-up for a lot of that match. We gave them a bit of a shock, but ultimately it was too much hard work at the end."

India had rocketed to 180 without loss in the 30th over, threatening a score well in excess of 350. But fine efforts from Mustafizur Rahman, who took five for 59, and Shakib Al Hasan, who was the most economical bowler on either side, pulled India back to 314 for nine.

"I thought we did fantastically well after that opening blitz by Rohit. We were very, very happy at the halfway stage only to be chasing that score. You know, it could well have been 370, 380, even 400 at one stage. But ultimately it was that start that, if we'd have just started a little bit better -- to beat India, you've got to play at your best, and we weren't there in that first hour."

Bangladesh had chased 322 with 8.3 overs to spare in Taunton on June 17, so when Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar started well, hopes were raised, but Rhodes said there was a difference in the opponents and the conditions.

"Going back to Taunton, it was an absolute belter of a wicket and a very fast outfield. Once the two guys got in, Liton Das and Shakib, then it was very difficult controlling them. This was a little bit different. Without being rude to the West Indies, there's more variety from India, and the way they bowl their cutters and slower balls and yorkers was excellent today, so the task was far more difficult."

He also defended Tamim for dropping the catch that could have changed the match, while also admitting that it was costly. "You know that any drop can be costly. I didn't know how costly it would be. I was hoping he'd hit another one up in the air a little bit sooner. Again, the person who dropped it was Tamim, and he's got one of our -- he's developed into one of our safer pair of hands in the outfield, so it was a little bit of a surprise, but he's human, and we're all human."

As for Mashrafe, after another wicketless performance and Bangladesh's World Cup done and dusted, there was the inevitable query about the future of the embattled 35-year-old.

"First, this situation with the board and all this talk that's been going on for the last two weeks or so that really are questions for the board and Mash to answer. I can't really answer that," Rhodes said. "We've also got to have a bowler good enough, capable enough to actually replace Mash. Everybody forgets that. He's had seven knee operations, and he's had a fantastic, wonderful career of over 200 ODIs, and he has not stopped trying throughout all of those ODIs, I know that."

Photo: AFP

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