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‘At the moment I think we’ll take it match by match’ Masrafe Mortaza
17 February 2015, Nirapad News: Bangladesh Skipper Masrafe Mortaza speaks to the press a day before Bangladesh’s first Match in the World Cup against Afghanistan.
Q. Masrafe, what does it mean to you guys that you’ve never beaten Afghanistan?
Masrafe: We’ve played only one match of 50 overs, I think. Yes, we beat them in T20, but we’ve come to a 50 overs World Cup match although true that we couldn’t beat them in last Asia cup, but I don’t think it bothers us. Hopefully we’ll do our best tomorrow.
Q. After the two warm-up losses, you said you didn’t know how many of your players took the game seriously. After these few training sessions, what do you make of the mood in the camp?
Masrafe: See, I didn’t mean that the boys haven’t taken it very seriously but yes I told that it is a practice match. Some boys think about their preparations, so there can be some lackings. But it’s more important how guys are practicing, and how they add up this kind of wicket. It looks to me that the last two, three, four days’ practice has been very good. Hopefully bowlers will add up to this week very well, and they’ll give it their best shot tomorrow.
Q. Talk about the kind of support that your team enjoys at home, the number of supporters that you guys have. Not many teams can match up to that support. Do you think you’re justified with your play, the kind of support that you have? And how important are these big events like the World Cup? Again, there will be pressure on you from home to deliver.
Masrafe: Definitely. At home we’ve got a lot of support. It’s always that we like playing at home because a lot of crowds turn up, and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing against. But I think you guys will be surprised tomorrow, again, a lot of supporters will come. So we are looking forward to it, and hopefully the supporters will support us, and we’ll try to play our best.
Q. Bangladesh have been playing Test Cricket for 15 years. You’ve been a member nation for a long time. Is it in some ways unfair that you’re compared to Afghanistan after just one match? Because you’ve definitely achieved a lot over a long period of time compared to them. Is it unfair for you to be compared to them like this?
Masrafe: Um, I don’t think so because comparisons can arise. Anybody can do it. But it depends how we take it. Both of us have taken them very seriously.. we respect them not for that they’re beginners, we respect them (like we do) all the countries. So we’ve taken them very seriously as well.. we don’t mind if someone compares us to them.
Q. Ireland has beaten West Indies – so is it an inspiration or is it a pressure?
Masrafe: No, it’s definitely an inspiration because somebody like Ireland in this kind of wicket that’s showed them very well, but it is not pressure.
Q. You’re a team that relies a lot on spinners, especially left arm spinners. But looking at these conditions what kind of attack will be best? Will it include a combination, someone like Sarkar or will you still rely on your spinners?
Masrafe: I think back home the wicket is favoured by all the spinners so we rely on them, but we have some very good quicks. “Yes, they’re still young, but they have the potential and hopefully they’ll do their job… our spinners, I feel that they’re world class and they can bowl on any wicket.
Q. What goals has the team set itself for the tournament?
Masrafe: It is difficult to say that right now. We’ll go one by one. Hopefully if we can play with our potential, we’ll go through. At the moment I think we’ll take match by match.
Q. I think you’re the only survivor of the Australia win in Cardiff. How have you seen Bangladesh cricket grow since then and is it a bit more realistic these days now?
Masrafe: Yes, that was in 2005, I think. That is a long time ago. After that we had to win so many matches. We had lost as well. So basically I think that is in the past.. we can’t take confidence from there. You have to play well on that particular day.. so hopefully we’ll do it tomorrow.
Q. What do you remember actually?
Masrafe: I think that was a great moment for us and for Bangladesh cricket, even for the Bangladesh supporters because I think I had the best team at that time.. Ashe was a good hundred, and a lot of players played really well. So, yes, only I am surviving on this team from then. But as I said.. it is a long time back still.. we can’t think about it. We have to think positive and approach the game positively from tomorrow.
Q. Is there an extra pressure on you to beat Afghanistan who are considered a lesser team?
Masrafe: We are able to beat any team, we have the skills to do so, and we do not want to take any unnecessary pressure of playing Afghanistan. We just need to play our game, that’s it.
Q. What could be the final combination of the team tomorrow, any heads-up?
Masrafe: It’s difficult to say that right now.. I won’t be unveiling our plans yet. Our think tank comprised of the coaching staff, our vice-captain, the team manager, the selectors back home have ideas about the pitch conditions, and after discussion with all we will set our final strategy before the game.
Q. Is there any fitness concern for Tamim Iqbal at the moment?
Masrafe: You all know that Tamim had a surgery about a month back and has been going through a rehab program over here. He has run well between the wickets in the game against Pakistan, and does not seem to have any major problem regarding his batting. There might be some minor problems, but it does not count regarding his match fitness. He has been batting really well in the nets and is fit to play. He is mentally really strong and I believe he will be able to overcome any minor problem and produce the results.
Q. What are your thoughts on the new and inexperienced players in your side and what do you expect from them?
Masrafe: I always believe that to do something great the infusion of new blood is always important not only in cricket but in any sport worldwide. Even though our young boys have not played a lot of international matches, they are hungry to perform and are currently in a very positive frame of mind. I believe they are hungry enough to produce the results in their first big event, just like how Tamim, Mushfiq and Shakib did it in the 2007 World Cup.
Q. Will winning the toss be of any advantage to the team tomorrow?
Masrafe: (Smiling) We cannot practice winning the toss! The wickets over here would be fair, that much I can say, and conditions will hopefully be even throughout the match. We definitely have a plan of what to do if we win the toss, but I think in these conditions, the toss won’t be as much of a big factor.
Q. Is the batting order settled?
Masrafe: The batting order has been set, but it won’t be logical to reveal it right now.
Q. Anamul Haque has been seen doing extra practice on his keeping, any particular reason behind?
Masrafe: We have all seen him do some extra practice on his keeping, and we were glad to see that. It’s really heartening to see someone work really hard to fill in whenever required. That does not mean that Mushfiq won’t keep, but it feels good to know that there is an able back-up if something happens to him during the match. Anamul has been our best fielder throughout the four practice matches, and we are glad that he can contribute with his keeping as well if required.
Q. Did the Ireland win over West Indies yesterday come as a pressure for Bangladesh or an inspiration?
Masrafe: The Ireland win against West Indies, and that too chasing 300 plus is definitely an inspiration for us. Our boys will definitely be inspired to do something similar and think that if Ireland could do it, so would we.
Q. Your team’s ultimate target for tomorrow’s match?
Masrafe: (Smiling) We all know what our target for tomorrow (18 Feb) against Afghanistan is, and that won’t change. It is worth mentioning that even before thinking of the result, all our boys will have to give it their best effort and that is most important. I hope we will have many performers tomorrow and we will win hopefully.