Ahead of the Asia Cup 2018 final, Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza has labelled India as a far better side but mentioned that “my Asia Cup was won” when Tamim Iqbal batted with one hand in their very first game.
Tamim got injured in the tournament opener against Sri Lanka, having suffered a blow on his wrist. As if the lack of batting depth in the top-order was not enough, ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan got ruled out from the tournament owing to a finger injury. To make the matters worse, Mortaza and Mushfiqur Rahim will be playing in the summit clash with 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 2016 Asia Cup. Similarly, they were defeated by Pakistan in the summit back in 2012.
When asked if they have learnt from their past mistakes, the Bangladeshi captain said: “Every tournament has been a distinct journey whether 2012 final against Pakistan or 2016 against India. Everytime we encountered a few situations, overcame them and got into the finals.
“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,” he explained.
India thrashed Bangladesh by seven wickets 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,” Mortaza asserted.
Recalling how things have change for Bangladesh in the last six years, Mashrafe 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. I think it’s a great lesson for the boys and young players will learn that it’s all about fight till the last ball. It was a difficult (road) to final without performer like Shakib and Tamim not being available,” he continued.
Speaking about the formula for defeating India without Tamim and Shakib, the Bangladesh skipper 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 went on to say that 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,” he said.
Talking about the final, Mortaza said a good start will hold the key.
“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,” he concluded.
(With PTI inputs)