Mortaza confident Bangladesh are in good nick
Captain Mashrafe Mortaza is convinced Bangladesh can take their form of the past two years on to one of the sport’s grandest stages as they gear up for their first Champions Trophy since 2006.
Bangladesh have risen to number six in the ODI Rankings ahead of the tournament, and confidence is high as they prepare to face off against Australia, New Zealand and hosts England in Group A.
And after being at the helm of the country’s rise in the 50-over format, Mashrafe is adamant the good times can keep coming in this competition.
Indeed, the 33-year-old is hopeful this is just the beginning for Bangladesh, though he is under no illusions about the challenge that lies ahead, particularly with the unfamiliar conditions in front of his team at The Oval and Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.
“We are ranked sixth, it is a pleasure for us, and the team is very happy with that,” said Mashrafe. “We want to move on from here and want to go as far as we can in the world.
“This tournament is going to be hard for us, playing a group that is very hard in the conditions, but on your day, you can do anything, we have quality players who can change the game. We’ll have to play as a team as we have been doing so far.
“There are expectations, once you play for your country there is always pressure. I think in this tournament, it is not going to be easy, so we have to concentrate on our own game. We want to play the way we have played over the past two years and execute our skills well.”
Bangladesh has shown itself to be no pushover in global tournaments, beating England at the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup to reach the knockout stages.
They come to England with a different mindset and the prospect of global success on their mind in the quest for a first semi-final in the Champions Trophy.
The first step of that challenge comes against Pakistan, ranked eighth in the standings, in a warm-up match on Saturday, before they face hosts England at The Oval on 1 June.
From there they play Australia at the same venue in London, before the trip to the Cardiff to face New Zealand, a side they recently beat in the 2017 Ireland Tri-Nation Series.
But the captain remains insistent that what happens on the day is all that matters.
“It is two and half years since the last ICC competition, victories there can help you but for me it does not because it is a new day, a new match,” Mashrafe added.
“If you want to do something, this is your day to make it. If we want to do that then this is your day, go ahead and do it. Whenever we have played them, Pakistan has been the bigger side, and in this sort of tournament any big side is under pressure.
“It is a very good side that can destroy any team, so it has a very big chance in the competition.”
Despite showing lots of improvement in the batting and bowling departments in recent times, Mashrafe is confident Bangladesh can still increase their levels in the field.
The skipper also believes his team is not overly-reliant on one or two star bowlers, although Mustafizur Rahman is among those hoping to play a key role in his first Champions Trophy, having required shoulder surgery in August.
“On your bad day, you have to concentrate on everything,” explained Mashrafe. “In the last match we dropped four catches, and that could not happen on the bigger stage. We hope our fielding will go alright as well as batting and bowling.
“We’re not concerned about being reliant on one bowler but Mustafizur has done a really good job for us over the past few years. He has come back very strongly after his operation and he’ll take a big role for us.”
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