The mental side of the game, rather than their skills, let Bangladesh down in their Champions Trophy 2017 semifinal against India, according to Mashrafe Mortaza, the captain. Bangladesh were reined in after a good start with the bat, making only 264 for 7. India then strolled to the target with ease, losing only one wicket and having 9.5 overs to spare.
The match did, however, mark a landmark moment for Bangladesh, who had never progressed to the semi-finals of an ICC event before this.
“Obviously the boys should feel proud,” said Mortaza on Thursday (June 15) at Edgbaston in Birmingham. “But I think in a tournament like this…we need to learn so many things. I think we have got to be a little bit more ready mentally to play this sort of match. I know once you are ready mentally, anything can be possible. Both times in 2015 (in the World Cup) and 2017, the boys have been through the knockout system. So if you can go through next time, hopefully the boys will learn how to get ready mentally.”
Mortaza however said that nerves hadn’t affected his team, and blamed the poor effort overall for the defeat – not getting enough runs on the board and then not bowling with enough discipline. Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim both scored half-centuries but fell shortly one after the other to Kedar Jadhav’s part-time offspin.
“I mean, we knew that it was going to be a difficult match. But if you are talking about the pressure, I think the way Tamim and Mushfiqur batted, even in the way Sabbir Rahman started, it didn’t look like we are tensed,” he said. “But once we lose wickets in the middle patches, it becomes difficult. The players have to take it easy, and now the next tour is coming up – Australia is coming – so we have to get ready for it. I mean, once you lose, people will talk, this is normal. Players don’t need to think too much about it.”
As for the surfeit of short balls that the Indian top order feasted on, Mortaza said the strategy was fine but the execution had been off. “Actually I think we didn’t bowl into the right areas, and when you don’t bowl into the right areas, then the short ball doesn’t affect batsmen. That’s the thing. And then, when we had already given a couple of fours in the first two-three balls, and then if we come and bowl a short ball, obviously the batter will be on top and it (the short ball) won’t work.
“Look, I think we have a good bowling attack. We always believed that, but sometimes it doesn’t work, especially on that sort of pitch. Once you are bowling in the second half it’s always difficult, but as I said before, we have to learn a bit more, to stop runs on that sort of pitch. We can’t just be asking for wickets to fall all the time, especially against a batting order like India. We have to learn a little bit more how can we stop runs and put pressure on the opponent.”
Despite the defeat, Mortaza said the experience would hold his team in good stead for the 2019 World Cup, which is also in England. “It will be nice if some youngsters can step up. This time it was hard for them, but hopefully I think in 2019 they’ll do better than whatever they did this time.”