'Not an upset if Bangladesh win World Cup'

Tarek Mahmud | Update:

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza takes part in a captains` press conference in London on May 23, 2019, a week before the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup begins. AFP

Captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza came home for two days after guiding the team to the title of the Tri-Nation Series in Ireland. Before leaving for England on the World Cup mission on Wednesday night, he spoke to Prothom Alo about the World Cup and the team’s chances in the tournament.

Prothom Alo: The team must be running high on confidence after winning the Tri-Nation Series ...

Mashrafe: The experience of playing in that condition will certainly come handy. Any win boosts your confidence, but three wins in three games against West Indies is special. They will probably come back (to the World Cup) stronger, but we had to beat them on the field.

Prothom Alo: This is the first time Bangladesh have won a trophy. How significant is the win considering the fact that it came just before the World Cup?

Mashrafe: Certainly the trophy win will boost our morale. I expect England's condition to be similar to that of the final in Ireland. Then again, the Tri-Nation Series and the World Cup are not the same. You will see a different West Indies in the World Cup. All the teams are strong and they will try to play their best. The Ireland success will fire us up, but the World Cup is another tournament and we have to start anew.

Prothom Alo: How will you rate the performances of Soumya, Liton and Mosaddek? You probably expected something like this from them just before the World Cup.

Mashrafe: I do not want to single out a player. Everyone is in good form, scoring runs. It is true their performances in the Tri-Nation Series will make them feel confident. But in the World Cup we all have to perform. Seniors like Tamim, Mushfiq and Shakib are also doing great. They just have to keep it up. It is a big tournament and there will be many matches to win. One or two individual performances will not be enough.

Prothom Alo: Are you worried about the bowling? Especially the form of Mustafiz ...
Mashrafe: Not at all. Nobody was at their best in Ireland, not only Mustafiz. This is very natural, you can have a bad tournament. But you have to come back stronger after a bad series or tournament. And the World Cup is the perfect stage to do that.

Prothom Alo: Many say it will be a tournament of high-scoring games. What do you think?
Mashrafe: We know that the pitches in England are famed for runs. As the games will be played in summer, the wickets will be dry, meaning runs will be aplenty. Our batsmen are capable of scoring big. Some say you have to chase 350 regularly but I do not think so. You may win scoring 280 or 300. Scores like 320-330 will be a fighting total.

Prothom Alo: Bangladesh will have to play nine games before the semifinal. How challenging is this format for Bangladesh?
Mashrafe: Playing nine good games in a row is difficult. If we can win one or two games in the beginning, our chances will increase/ But our first two matches are against two strong sides. If we lose the first two, we have to win the remaining matches in order to qualify for the semifinals. Many say five wins can even send a team to the last four. But I would say that you have to win at least six games to reach the semifinals.

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza celebrates taking the wicket of England`s Jason Roy during the ICC Champions Trophy match at The Oval in London on June 1, 2017. AFPProthom Alo: You guys are eyeing the semifinals ...
Mashrafe: Yes, that's the primary target. We want to play in the semifinals, but that won't be easy. Every team in the World Cup are difficult opponents. But if we can reach the semifinal, why not dream of the final?

Prothom Alo: Everyone thinks England, India or Australia are favourites. Who do you think will win the trophy?
Mashrafe: True, these three are contenders. But I think India and Australia are marginally ahead. Bangladesh also have a good chance.

Prothom Alo: Will it be an upset if Bangladesh win the World Cup?
Mashrafe: People can say whatever they feel like. Many men, many minds. But if you ask me, I would say that Bangladesh winning the trophy will be no upset.

Prothom Alo: This will be your last World Cup. What will let you sign off in style?
Mashrafe: I have said that the semifinals is our target. If we can go further, even better. I just want everyone to do their best from their respective position.

Prothom Alo: Last but not the least, do you have any personal target?
Mashrafe: Not really. I have not set any personal aims. As long as Bangladesh do well as a team I am happy.

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