There was not much time for Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza to celebrate an opening win that seemed unlikely when the fixtures were confirmed before he had to make his way to the post-match press conference. It was enough time for the captain to get his game face on and face the media and remind the fans that the 21-run win over South Africa at The Oval yesterday was just one game.
“After the win, there’s nothing much to say. Everyone is happy,” Mashrafe said. “We are seeing every other team as bigger than us, so we are more focused on our own game. We don’t want to be too excited. We just have two points so far. We have to beat big teams if we want to do well in this tournament.”
Bangladesh had come into the World Cup as among the best-prepared teams. On May 17 they won their first multi-team ODI trophy by beating West Indies in the final of the tri-series in Ireland. However, on Saturday, he said that it would be best to forget about that result before starting their World Cup campaign.
“I think we should forget about today’s game now,” was his message yesterday too. “We have to plan for the match against New Zealand, and try to execute it properly. Even if we lost this match, it would not have made a difference for the game against New Zealand. This win will give us confidence, but more challenges await us, especially for our batsmen.”
The batsmen were the stars of the day as each of the top seven -- from opener Soumya Sarkar’s 30-ball 42, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim’s innings-shaping 142-run third-wicket stand, Mohammad Mithun’s cameo of a run-a-ball 21 to the 66-run sixth-wicket stand in just 41 balls from Mahmudullah Riyad and Mosaddek Hossain at the end -- contributed to setting up a total that was too good for South Africa.
Then the bowlers bowled as a group, with Mustafizur Rahman leading the way with three for 67, Mehedi Hasan Miraz performing the defensive spinner’s role to perfection with economical figures of 44 for one from 10 overs and Shakib picking his 250th wicket during another economical spell of one for 50 from 10. Having asked the previous day for a concerted effort, and stressing that that was Bangladesh’s strength and modus operandi, Mashrafe could not help but bask in the satisfaction of his team executing to such a high level.
“This is the team we are. We mostly win when everyone contributes. Once most of our players step up, there’s a good possibility to win the matches. I think we have been lucky, and played so well.”
It was not long before he pulled things back. When asked whether this was their best World Cup performance, he was not ready to go so far.
“We played well in 2007, and did well in a few matches in 2011. If you are taking about specific matches I don’t think this is our best win. But it wasn’t easy for us in these conditions, playing in England. It is one of our best performances, and I loved the way we played today. It won’t happen everyday, I am sure, but I would love it if we could.”
He singled Soumya out for special praise after the opener followed three successive fifties win Ireland with a dominant 42 yesterday.
“He does something out of the box,” Mashrafe said. “We give him a lot of freedom as well. Play your shots and express yourself as much as you can. He is doing so well since the Ireland tri-series. In the practice match against India, he was the one who took them on. Hopefully his confidence will keep going. He has to adjust to the swinging ball. I hope his consistency stays.”