Mashrafe calls for focus over emotion

Mashrafe Mortaza on the improvements in his side: “There is still inexperience but it is an almost settled team now.” © Associated Press

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza has urged his players to isolate themselves from the emotional outpouring back home following their heart-wrenching loss to India, and instead focus on the positives that a win against New Zealand would bring.

While Bangladesh fans were shocked by the one-run defeat that knocked their team out of the competition, there has been no shortage of sympathy and support for the players – like the reactions to Mushfiqur Rahim’s apology on Facebook would tell you. Mashrafe admitted it wasn’t easy to recover quickly from such an enervating experience, but said there was no point in clinging on to it either.

“The boys have had 48 hours to think about it. Nobody broke down but everyone was upset. I think [now] you have to play hard,” Mashrafe told reporters on the eve of Bangladesh’s last group stage match against New Zealand. “At the moment, you can’t just think about [what] others [are thinking or feeling]. We have to think we have one match left to play. But we should think positively that we have one match left and if we get a chance to win, we will grab it.

“All Bangladeshis are passionate about cricket and it [the loss to India] is disappointing. The way we lost you just can’t describe [it]. There’s no words [left] for any player [to say]. Even if we say sorry, it’s not good enough.

“We needed two from three balls and we should have won it easily. We have to accept the criticism. Whatever people say, we don’t have anything to say. It’s acceptable.”

Mushfiqur’s premature celebration after bringing down the target to two off three balls against India is an image that will haunt him and his team for a long time. Bangladesh’s excitable nature on the field has at times been held against them, but Mashrafe couldn’t make up his mind on whether it worked for or against his team. “Yes, you are right [about Bangladesh being an emotional team]. [But] emotion is something that is difficult to change. It can help sometimes, I feel, and it’s been working for us. But it’s very difficult to say [whether remaining calm like MS Dhoni would work for us]. It varies from person to person, so I don’t know what to answer.”

But he wasn’t nearly as unsure about disputing the line of thought that Bangladesh had a patchy record in Twenty20 cricket, and said they were a much improved side across formats over the last two years. “We have prepared a good team. We have reached a stage in the last one-two years,” Mashrafe said. “We reached the quarter-final in the [2015] ODI World Cup. We made it to the final of the Asia Cup. There is still inexperience but it is an almost settled team now. Even in this World T20 we ran teams like Australia and India really close. So there are a lot of positives. Hopefully we will be a different team in the next World Cup.”

With many careers winding down at the end of the World T20, there were predictably questions about Mashrafe’s own future. He, however, dead-batted them saying he would think about it only after getting back to Bangladesh.

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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