'Rana inspired us'
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was a tearaway fast bowler in the 2003 World Cup, slowly moulding himself into the senior bowler in the 2007 event. But through it all, he did it with as much passion and fervour as is related to the Narail Express. His early breakthroughs in big matches has always been a boon for Bangladesh and it came against India too, in that famous encounter in Port-of-Spain. Here he shares his memories with The Daily Star Sport.
Daily Star Sport (DSS): How did you feel when you heard that you will play the 2003 World Cup?
Mashrafe Mortaza (MM): Well I actually played a lot of cricket before the World Cup and was quite a regular member of the team. So I knew that I would be in the squad for the tournament.
But yes when I stepped into the field to play the first match, I had a totally different feeling. It was great to be a part of the team.
DSS: You played two World Cups. How would you compare between them?
MM: 2003 and 2007 were totally two different tournaments for us. Both were World Cups but our performance was totally the opposite. I would say that the 2007 World Cup was better than the one in 2003.
DSS: How would you explain the atmosphere of 2003 and 2007 World Cup?
MM: In the 2003 World Cup we had a very poor experience. We lost to Canada in the opening match and went on to lose every match in that tournament. I would say our practice was alright but not up to the mark.
Lack of confidence was another issue for the poor atmosphere we had that time.
The 2007 World Cup was much better. We reached the second round of the tournament beating India in the first match. The atmosphere was great after defeating India and the team was pumped up and believed in winning matches.
DSS: Any frustrating part of the 2007 World Cup?
MM: I bowled brilliantly in the first round picking up wickets regularly. I thought of ending the tournament with at least 15 or 16 wickets, but I didn't get any wickets in the second round. I was getting frustrated but our coach (Dav Whatmore) asked me to keep patience. I ended the tournament with nine wickets.
DSS: So recall your best memory.
MM: I don't have anything from the 2003 World Cup as we played very poorly. In 2007, just a day before our first match against India, (Manzarul Islam) Rana passed away in an accident and the whole of Bangladesh was mourning his loss.
Even we were very upset for losing him like this.
When we won the match next day, we dedicated our win to Rana. He was our inspiration for winning. I won't call it a sweet memory because we lost Rana, but definitely I will always remember that day.
DSS: Your expectations from the 2011 World Cup…
MM: The Bangladesh cricket team have grown a winning habit. They are capable of playing very well against big teams.
It will be tough to reach the second round, but I think they are good enough of doing it. We have the advantage of home conditions.
If the players can hold their nerve and support each other they have a good of reaching far in the tournament. I wish them good luck.