According to many, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was already Bangladesh’s most successful ODI captain, but Tuesday’s 91-run win over Zimbabwe put him officially on top of the list. He surpassed former Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar’s 29 wins in 69 games and now leads the chart with 30 wins in 53 matches. The inspirational skipper spoke about the feat along with the changes in the Tigers dressing room since the post Chandika Hathurusingha era with a few reporters, including The Daily Star’s Mazhar Uddin at the team hotel yesterday. The following are excerpts from the conversation:
Q: Will Bangladesh go with a ruthless approach [in today’s match against Sri Lanka] despite already being in the final?
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (MM): For us that is important. If you look at the way our team has been playing, it is tough to continue but it will boost our confidence the longer we can keep it up. There will be risks playing this type of cricket where we want to dominate the opposition but I think it’s the best way to win. If you want to go to the next level like England or Australia — they are scoring 300-plus runs every day. But we are yet to make it a habit which was the reason why we failed in South Africa. We have to learn from this.
Q: How do you see Khaled Mahmud’s role as a technical director since the departure of Chandika Hathurusingha?
MM: He is doing very well. As an example, when was the last time that numbers 9, 10 and 11 scored 46 runs. The credit goes to Sujon bhai who worked one hour daily with the bowlers on their batting during the fitness camp. There was a lot of talk after Hathurusingha left but I think they are doing a better job than he would have done. So I give full marks to our coaching staff, especially Sujon bhai.
Q: Who do you think will be the stronger opponent in the final?
MM: I think Sri Lanka is far ahead as they have the ability to beat any side. They have beaten India in the recent past and they have also chased over 330 runs in the Champions Trophy. On their given day they can be dangerous and I will put Sri Lanka ahead in terms of experience.
Q: How important is it for juniors to contribute with the seniors?
MM: If you want to achieve something big, the juniors must contribute. We are trying to match up with the juniors and they have to broaden their mindset where they can follow Tamim — you don’t need to follow Virat Kohli or AB de Villiers. The way Tamim changed his game and his consistency along with Shakib, Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah… how they deliver under pressure, the juniors need to follow these things. I think they are doing well and it’s a matter of time.
Q: How do you see the return of Mustafizur Rahman in the series?
MM: I think it’s too early to say and even when he picked up five-six wickets against India I was being realistic about Mustafizur, as I knew he will face a difficult time. It was important how he reacted and it was nice to see him take that in his stride as there were expectations that he will take wickets in every game. As I said previously he can change the Bangladesh bowling attack and I still believe that. It was important for him to return to rhythm after the injury.
Q: Do you think there should be more competition among the bowlers?
MM: Obviously, if you see we have awarded Rubel [a trophy from the team management] after taking 100 wickets, you don’t see that everywhere but we are starting to give him responsibility so that he can be inspired and chase down the 200-wicket mark. It’s impossible to win matches without a group of spinners or fast bowlers in the team. We are trying and it’s not like we will get the reward immediately, but in the coming days we will surely get the results.
Q: Your take on becoming the most successful Bangladesh ODI captain?
MM: It was never a big deal for me as it’s something temporary. It will change from one person to another at some point. But if you see Sumon bhai [Habibul Bashar], a win under him was equal to two wins keeping the situation back then in mind — it was very difficult. But now it’s a different target of going to the next level. Every win under all captains is important. Obviously being a player I also felt good but it’s temporary and it’s my job to keep my team on the right track.
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