“I'm telling you, we are going to win tomorrow [Wednesday],” a confident Tigers skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza told reporters while relaxing after a training session at McLean Park in Napier on the eve of the first match of the three-ODI series against New Zealand yesterday.
It was not the first time and not just a fluke that Mashrafe said such words as he also said the same thing before the crucial ICC Champions Trophy game against New Zealand back in 2017 in Cardiff.
The rest is history as Cardiff became one of the most memorable venues for the Tigers as Bangladesh clinched a scintillating five-wicket win over the Kiwis after Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah Riyad struck hundreds to win the game from a near-impossible situation.
It is about self belief and confidence, both of which are strengths that made Mashrafe an inspirational leader and also the most successful captain for the Tigers.
Talking about imparting confidence, there were many instances yesterday when the 35-year-old was seen inspiring his charges. While talking to Liton Das after the training session, Mashrafe was overheard saying to the batsman: “The way you struck a hundred against India in the final of the Asia Cup, the situation will be exactly the same tomorrow [today]. When you face Trent Boult, heed my words, the ball will only shape in towards you and you know how to handle it. You have faced Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshawar Kumar, who are more deadly than what you are going to face tomorrow.”
The newly elected member of parliament spent less time at the nets and spoke more to his teammates yesterday. The chief reason behind the pep talk was the absence of their most crucial member, Shakib Al Hasan, who was ruled out at the last moment due to a finger injury sustained in the Bangladesh Premier League final on February 8.
Another reason for which the Tigers required mental strength is the fact that Bangladesh have never won an international game against New Zealand in their own backyard and on perhaps his last bilateral series away from home, Mashrafe is understandably desperate to correct the record.
Even with the team lacking in some aspects, such as the absence of a wrist-spinner, Mashrafe was eager to get the most of the resources he had as he was encouraging Sabbir Rahman while the batsman was bowling his leg-spinners in the nets and it will not be a surprise if the cricketer bowls a few overs today against the Kiwis in the first ODI.
“India has two wrist-spinners and places where most teams struggle like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, they have managed to win series because of their wrist-spinners. We don't have any wrist-spinner and we don't take them [New Zealand] lightly just because they lost their previous series to India. As we don't have a wrist-spinner, we will try to give our best within our limitations,” Mashrafe told reporters yesterday.
Even without Shakib in the side, Mashrafe at times seemed annoyed at any lack of confidence in the absence of the champion all-rounder as his main motto remained: "We are here to win; not just to give a tough fight and lose."