'Play with full enjoyment'
Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is known for his inspirational presence and the national team has benefited from that for more than a decade, but yesterday he turned his motivational prowess towards a younger group the Saif Hasan-led Bangladesh Under-19 squad that will leave for the unfamiliar climes of New Zealand tomorrow to participate in the ICC Under-19 World Cup from January 13.
Most of the members of the current Under-19 side are unfamiliar with Kiwi conditions, but Mashrafe urged the cricketers to remain mentally strong and shared his experience with the youngsters at the National Cricket Academy in Mirpur yesterday.
"The time for hard training has gone as they have been working hard in the last year and a half to two years; they will apply those on the field now, so there is no point talking about hard work now," Mashrafe told reporters after speaking to the youngsters. "What I said is to remain mentally strong as they might feel the conditions there are against them, which is normal. Even when our national team goes there that is the situation for us."
Under the leadership of Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Mashrafe's current teammate in the senior side, hosts Bangladesh achieved their best result by finishing third in the last event in 2016 when home advantage along with the presence of experienced players helped the youngsters.
"I told them to play cricket with full enjoyment as I know that the more freedom you give to the under-19 cricketers, the more they will enjoy and perform rather than placing the extra pressure of reaching the semifinal or winning the World Cup," Mashrafe added.
"If there are no issues with the weather I think pitch will be flat and I even believe that the batsmen will get better wickets for batting. On the other hand the hard task bowlers might face is having to bowl against the wind, as wind can play a big role in New Zealand. That's the adjustment and as they are going 15-20 days early I told them that this adjustment will be very important for the bowlers, along with the batsman, to play according to the plan," he said.
The valuable tips from the inspirational cricketer had a positive impact on the youngsters and according to skipper Saif the motivational talk from Mashrafe helped to relieve some pressure.
"Mashrafe Bhai talked about the conditions in New Zealand and motivated us. His motivation is on a very high level and it will definitely help us. He doesn't put any pressure and has always told us to enjoy the game, which actually help to release the pressure. Not only the captain; every single member of the team can take the responsibility and it makes things easy. According to Mashrafe Bhai all the players are captain," Saif said after the session.
Before taking the field against Namibia on January 13 in their first Group C match, the young Tigers will play two warm-up games against Pakistan and Afghanistan in Christchurch. The remaining two group matches against Canada and England will be held on January 15 and 18 respectively.