After two weeks of terrible blows to Bangladesh cricket’s psyche, Mushfiqur Rahm’s unbeaten knock of 60 -- one that gave the Tigers their first T20I win against the mighty India -- came as a sort of deliverance to the team’s morale.
The day before the match, Rohit Sharma had talked about Bangladesh’s maturity and yesterday the team showcased it. Mushfiqur came to the press wearing an expression of relief given how he and Bangladesh have always ended up on the wrong end when these two sides have met, but there was also a steel about him, signaling that they had a job to do and they were not going over the moon with this win.
“It’s a great moment for Bangladesh cricket,” he began. “We haven’t won against them in T20 cricket before. The way all the young players stuck together and how the bowlers bowled on this track was outstanding. It was a defendable score as the wicket wasn’t easy to bat on.
“All the guys showed their character. We have nothing to lose in this game or in this series and this gave us a cushion and the potential to play fearless cricket,” he said of the players’ effort given the turbulence of the past few weeks.
On this kind of track, with the ball not coming onto the bat, the team needed Mushfiqur’s guiding hand. He came in to bat when the wily Yuzvendra Chahal was beginning to work his magic to peg the Tigers back. He did not lose his cool but worked on picking his moments and looked to keep the score ticking with Soumya Sarkar at the other end.
“Me and Soumya had a chat that at least one of us needed to stay till the 19th over. It wasn’t going to be easy for a new batsman. Fortunately [Mahmudullah] Riyad also played well,” Mushy said.
India have always been a thorn in Bangladesh’s side and when Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur were batting, it brought back memories of close games, especially the T20 World Cup defeat in Bangalore.
“As long as you are learning from your mistakes, that’s important. I have been closing games in T20Is and ODIs and that gave me confidence. A bit of experience of what I had to do helped. I had a chat with Riyad bhai and we were clear. After a couple of years, Mahmudullah and I could finish off a game so that feels great.”
“We knew we had to take the game deep. We stuck to our game plan,” Mushfiqur added.
The match perhaps should be recognized as one of Bangladesh’s finest achievements. The gloom and doom of the past weeks must have taken its toll. Without Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal in their ranks, a T20 victory was not expected.
“Did that work as inspiration, the upheaval of the past weeks?,” he was asked. “So should we recreate such situations every week,” Mushfiqur retorted.
“No one would ask for such situations,” he said more seriously after the laughter died down. “There was only one way to come back from this [situation]: with a good win or by showing some spirit and bringing joy to the 17 or 18 crore people who look towards us.”