That gave us a lot of confidence and belief. "There are so many things to prove in this tournament, and we were upto the challenge.
Considered underdogs for a long time, Bangladesh have the strength to get the better off big teams and his side’s 21-run win over South Africa in the World Cup should not be seen as a surprise anymore, believes skipper Mashrafe Mortaza. Bangladesh started their World Cup campaign on a perfect note, posting their highest one-day international score of 330 on the back of half centuries by Shakib Al Hasan (75) and Mushifiqur Rahim (78).
Sublime bowling performances by Mustafizur Rahman (3/67) and Mohammad Saifuddin (2/57) then helped them beat World No. 3 South Africa at the Oval on Sunday. Asked if this was a sign of Bangladesh’s development, the skipper replied: “Do you think this was a surprise? If we can deliver our best we knew what we could do. “I’m sure some people don’t think well of our cricket. We are concentrating on our game and let other people talk.” Experienced allrounder Shakib said expectations from the Bangladesh team have changed since their triumphs over India and South Africa in the 2007 edition.
“It’s been 12 years, so our cricket has come a long way forward. At that time, if we play well, that was good enough for the crowd and for us. But now, they are not satisfied with defeat to any other team. This is the expectation level we’ve got in these 12 years,” Shakib said. “We prepared ourselves well. We were in Ireland, where we played really well against West Indies and Ireland. That gave us a lot of confidence and belief. “There are so many things to prove in this tournament, and we were upto the challenge.
The boys were confident, but at the same time, we were relaxed. We knew we have the skill to beat big teams.” Mortaza also hailed his team’s all-round show against South Africa. “We played so well, especially being in England. It’s not easy for us in the conditions, which don’t favour us in the way they do at home,” Mortaza said after the win. “I thought it was one of our best performances, and we love to play the way we played in this game. I’m sure that it won’t happen every day, but that is the idea.”
Bangladesh have landed in the UK with a blend of experience and new players. While the likes of Mashrafe, Shakib, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur featured in the side’s 2007 World Cup victory against South Africa, youngsters like Soumya Sarkar, who smashed 42 off 30 balls provide new dimension to the team. “We have a heavy batting line-up. You look at the experience, I have Tamim opening and Shakib batting at three, Mushfiqur comes back at four. Soumya, he’s coming out with something out of the box.” Mortaza was also lavish in his praise for all-rounder Shakib. “Shakib has got the experience and makes sure that in the top order, he’s more responsible and he can hold all the pressure to deliver at his best. He’s exactly spot on, and performed so well for the team,” Mortaza said.