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Proud Mashrafe doesn’t want to be judged by trophies

  • Published at 09:33 pm September 27th, 2018
Bangladesh's Mashrafe bin Mortaza briefs the media in the UAE Thursday AFP

With 249 wickets in 193 ODIs, Mashrafe bin Mortaza is the highest Bangladesh wicket-taker in the 50-over format, followed by all-rounder Shakib al Hasan with 244 scalps

When Bangladesh came into the Asia Cup in the UAE, and having qualified for the tournament final, there was wide sentiment of the side trying to clinch the trophy for ODI captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza.

The sentiment was driven from the bitter and unspoken fact that the veteran pacer is nearing the end of his illustrious career. It is being whispered if the 2019 World Cup will put the full spot to the Tigers’ best ever ODI skipper. 

Bearing this in mind, the crazy cricket fanatics want to see a major trophy in the Bangladesh cabinet under the leadership of Mashrafe. 

With Bangladesh taking on India Friday in their third Asia Cup final in the last four editions, the emotions have only grown stronger. But Mashrafe sees it differently, and does not agree that his career or leadership should be judged over winning a major trophy. 

The 34-year old is Bangladesh’s most successful captain in ODIs with an astonishing 57.57 win percentage. Mashrafe has led the Tigers to 35 ODI wins in 63 attempts, and alongside that has also bettered his individual performances with time. 

With 249 wickets in 193 ODIs, the right-arm pacer is the highest Bangladesh wicket-taker in the 50-over format, followed by all-rounder Shakib al Hasan with 244 scalps.

“Firstly, I don’t see myself as so cheap (low) that I would judge myself on a trophy. Secondly, I do not play cricket for a trophy. A trophy is very important at one stage, and I believe Inshallah one day, Bangladesh will win one. It’s important because it will boost the young generation coming into cricket. So in that sense you can say Bangladesh need a trophy, but it’s not that it has to be (Friday). And from a personal standpoint, if you judge Mashrafe based on a trophy, that is up to you, but I don’t see myself as that low,” said Mashrafe to the media at the team hotel in Dubai Thursday.

Bangladesh have never been tested as a team the way they have been at the Asia Cup. The Tigers have been dealing with severe injury issues, losing two of their key members in the shape of opening batsman Tamim Iqbal and Shakib. 

The packed schedule of the tournament gave very minimal recovery time to the team after a game and throughout the six-nation competition, the top-order batting has been found wanting. A few players have been carrying niggles but those are being over looked, bearing in mind the severity of the other injuries.

Despite all odds, the Tigers made a winning start, defeating Sri Lanka in the tournament opener. Bangladesh however, lost their next two matches, against Afghanistan (group stage) and India (Super Four phase) but came back strong with wins against Afghanistan and Pakistan to storm into the final.

Mashrafe is delighted and proud as captain for the way the team showed character. The most pleasing part for him was how the juniors stepped up in the team’s crisis moments, especially in the Pakistan game where Bangladesh desperately needed a win to confirm their Asia Cup final berth. 

For the past few months, the junior members of the team have been under scrutiny due to their below-par contributions.

“It was the first time in a match (during the Pakistan game) that I saw – there were outstanding innings from Mushfiqur (Rahim) and (Mohammad) Mithun and great bowling from Mustafizur (Rahman) and (Mehedi Hasan) Miraz – but still I think that if you saw the body language of the fielders, I think the match turned there. Bowlers were inspired. Fighting is not just about the bowler running up, it’s all about the team. If a bowler bowls a bad ball and the fielder stops the shot, the bowler gradually gets inspired. That is a lesson for us,” Mashrafe explained.

Speaking on Bangladesh’s chances against India, considering the situation the Tigers currently find themselves, Mashrafe said, “The way has to be found on the field. You have to find a clue like a good spell or innings. There are no easy options other than that. For that you need to be mentally strong and 100% fit mentally. It is no use thinking of physical recovery, because we played (Wednesday) and have to play final a day later. The need is to be mentally 100%. That is what we are trying for. I hope that those can happen earlier. It’s possible if we can do these things.”