Bangladesh skipper Mahsrafe Mortaza Thursday had no hesitation in terming India a far better team but said “my Asia Cup was won” when Tamim Iqbal batted with one hand in their tournament opener. Dashing opener Tamim is one of the few key players Bangladesh will be missing in the final against India on Friday.
Besides Tamim, Bangladesh will also miss the services of the seasoned all-rounder Shakib-al Hasan in the title clash in Dubai. To make matters worse for them, Mortaza, who has a broken finger, and Mushfiqur Rahim will be playing injuries.
“Let me be honest, the moment Tamim entered the field against Sri Lanka as the last man to help Mushfiqur score those runs, my Asia Cup was won,” Mortaza said at the pre-match press conference.
Bangladesh lost to India in the final of the tournament in 2016, four years before that they were defeated by Pakistan in the summit showdown of the continental event.
Asked if they have learnt from past mistakes during crucial games against India, he said, “Every tournament has been a distinct journey whether the 2012 final against Pakistan or 2016 against India. Every time we encountered a few situations, overcame them and got into the finals.
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“This journey in this tournament was a difficult one as we started losing players from the very first game (Tamim Iqbal). There was also concern whether Mushfiqur Rahim could play or not but then he played despite not being gully fit. We can learn from him.”
India comfortably beat their eastern neighbours in the Super Four game.
“I think India is a far better team, they are number one in the world, the came here as the favourites, but then you never know, anything can happen. So, we will have to be mentally strong and fight till the last ball. It’s important to keep our emotion in check.”
Going back six years, he said, “When we were in final in 2012 we rarely used to win matches against big teams and now we have competed regularly. Some of the players like Shakib, Mushfiqur, Mustafizur and Tamim has contributed greatly in these victories.
“This year we are in final without our top two performers, and boys should feel proud about it.”
Shakib flew back to Bangladesh after aggravating a finger injury, while Tamim was ruled out of the tournament after suffering a fracture in the opening game.
“Every match we encountered anxious moments and from Afghanistan Super Four game, it was a virtual final for us. Hopefully, top order clicks in the final and if they don’t, then the middle and lower order needs to perform. No point thinking about technique and stuff at this juncture when we are playing final.
“I think it’s a great lesson for the boys and young players will learn that it’s all about fighting till the last ball. It was a difficult (road) to final without performer like Shakib and Tamim not being available.”
Asked about the recipe for defeating India without Tamim and Shakib, he said, “Actually you need to wait for a cue on the field. It could be a great spell or may be a great innings. Like a good partnership like one that Mushfiqur and Mithun shared against Pakistan. Or else I don’t think you have easy options of beating India.”
He said Bangladesh cricket needs a tournament triumph.
“I don’t judge myself on the basis of one trophy. I have not played cricket for one trophy. I can say that a trophy is very important for Bangladesh. Insha Allah one day Bangladesh will win a trophy. The youngsters will get a boost if Bangladesh win.”
Talking about the final, he said a good start is of paramount importance.
“It is very difficult to set them a target. Considering India’s batting strength, at least 260-270 could be a fighting total, I am not saying that’s a winning score. And if we bowl first then we would look to try and restrict them. Batting or bowling, a good start is crucial.”
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina congratulated the team for making the final.
“The Premier called up, we spoke to her from the dressing room, she is obviously very happy, and motivated us to try our best in the final. If that happens, fine, but she asked us to give our best.
(With PTI Inputs)