*Bangladesh skipper said as a team the last two-three years they are changing things a lot, especially inside the dressing rooms and behaviour on the ground.
*Mortaza believes there will be a lot of pressure on India as well.
*Bangladesh skipper also admitted that there is a lot of hype around this game amongst the fans as the Tigers are playing in a semi-final of a global event for the first time.
Raising a lot of eyeballs Bangladesh have reached the semifinal of this ongoing ICC Champions Trophy and on Thursday at Edgbaston they will face their biggest challenge when they take on a strong Indian team. This is going to be their first ever appearance in the last four stage of a global event and a big occasion for the entire Bangladesh cricket fraternity.
In his pre-match press conference today, Mortaza had no hesitation to admit that his team would be the clear underdogs. However, he also mentioned that if it is not going to be a cakewalk for India. Bangladesh have shown a lot of fighting spirits in the tournament so far and Mortaza is now banking on the ‘never give up attitude’ of his boys in this crucial fixture which according to many is going to be Bangladesh’s biggest game in the history so far.
Here is what Mortaza had to say in his presser.
Q. It’s your first match of the tournament at Edgbaston; how much are you looking forward to playing here?
MashrafeMortaza (MM): Yeah, we played one practice match here against Pakistan. We lost, but we’ve played so far well. We saw that the wicket was pretty good to bat. Hopefully, we’ll enjoy tomorrow.
Q. Is this the biggest cricket match of Bangladesh’s history?
MM: I’ve been answering that question since World Cup 2015. But playing in the best eight and in the semi-final, obviously, there is a big hype. You can say, but I’m not sure.
Q. Does it feel maybe a grudge match because it’s India, with all the history you’ve had with them?
MM: Not necessarily. I know it could have been England, it could have been anyone. So I don’t have to think that it’s India. We’ll play another match. Hopefully, if we can take the pressure out, hopefully, we’ll play good cricket.
Q. ViratKohli said about the World Cup quarterfinal, it’s about 24 months and I think everyone has forgotten it. But I just want to ask you, do you think it is forgotten in Bangladesh, or is it still something that.
MM: Yeah, forgot means –I don’t know what you mean. I mean, players or…
MM: Obviously, players. After that we played, I think – two T20s, three T20s actually and three ODIs. Still we are the same and obviously forgot it. It is 24 months, exactly what Virat said, and tomorrow is going to be a new match. So our concentration obviously and our thinking obviously is about tomorrow’s match.
Q. A few days ago Tamim was saying that the other teams are more respectful of the Bangladeshi team now. Do you see it now, that more teams are respecting you more, now that you are winning much more frequently?
MM: Look, it depends from man to man who is respecting you and not. But as a team we are trying to improve our cricket. As a team in the last two, three years we are changing things a lot, especially into the dressing rooms and behaviour on the ground. So we are trying our best. As you said, respecting depends on you, that you are the best man to judge.
Q. Mashrafe, looking back on the historic big matches, the Bangladesh Twenty20 match against India, you could not manage to win it. Is it something of a concern for you, and does it give an advantage to India?
MM: People count only winning, that’s for sure, but I think if you look at both matches, I think we played at our best. Yes, India played also at their best, that’s why they won. But still, I believe we have a lot more to do at that level, and our graph is pretty good that we are coming up, especially if you look at also Bangladesh last year, and this year we keep playing and we’ve been to New Zealand, we’ve been to Ireland and nowhere, and also we are playing overseas, and we are pretty much successful. That’s more important for us that our cricket is going to improve.
Obviously, e have been disappointed, especially in India T20 World Cup we couldn’t go through three balls, needed two runs, and our best two batsmen in the wicket. It happens sometimes in cricket, but we forget it, and now we have to – are thinking that tomorrow we play at our best, but we can’t just think what happened the last two matches and coming into the ground it will put some more pressure on us.
Q. Mashrafe, talking about the 2015 World Cup and now this Champions Trophy, in these last two years, what exactly has happened that changed Bangladesh cricket, and where do you see the further changes happening?
MM: One thing that, yes, winning against England was helping us a lot, that we go through the quarterfinals, and obviously we lost against New Zealand in New Zealand, the next match we played against New Zealand in World Cup. We scored no – on a tough wicket we scored almost 300, 295. Still, we lost, but those are things – the team was boosted up, and after that beating Pakistan and India and South Africa, yes, it was at home, but more respecting from us to beat those sorts of teams wherever we played. But I think this team has changed, and obviously some divisions, like sort of play with some sort of freedom that as much as you can do in the middle, play with that sort of freedom, and never hold yourself or whatever you want to do, do yourself, coaches from us and also cricket supporting lots to the players, back the players and not dropping – those sort of things actually change teams.
Q. ViratKohli termed your team as a dangerous team. What is that danger element in your team which gives you an edge?
MM: First of all, thanks to Virat. And yes, I know that in our day we can do anything, to be honest. But things that – as I told, we are the team that is trying to improve ourselves a lot, what we have been. We have tried to play at our best in every match. We don’t know what is going to be the result, but if you know that you are going to play at your best and things can change. So even if we look at last matches, when Ross and Williamson batted really well but we come back strongly, that’s things, never give up on the ground, those sort of things actually are thinking a lot in the ground rather than losing or what’s going to happen.
Q. Obviously it’s the semi-final of an ICC event, and if you win the match tomorrow you’re going to reach the final of an ICC event for the first-ever time. Just the expectations are also huge back home; how equipped are your players do you think to handle this pressure which comes along with this expectation?
MM: First thing is we’re playing also the first time in our life to semifinal, so that is also a fact, and also if it’s pressure, I think India got more pressure than us because the huge population is there, and people love cricket in India a lot. Even in Bangladesh, also. Both teams have a lot of expectations. But at the end of the day, it’s a cricket game, so whoever plays well, they’ll win. But both teams will try their best, and pressure, I think I just told him before that if you take it as a semifinal, the pressure will be going very hard, but if you think it’s just another match the pressure will come a lot easier.
Courtesy: ICC Media