‘Have to play better than we have so far’

At the business end of a tournament, skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was once more faced with an all-too-familiar hurdle. In the last two ICC 50-over tournaments, it was India that stopped Bangladesh’s march — in the 2015 World Cup quarterfinal and the 2017 Champions Trophy semifinal. After an impressive run in the ongoing World Cup, Mashrafe and Co are left having to win against India today to stay alive in the race to the semifinals.

Mashrafe was under no illusions about the size of the task at hand when speaking at the pre-match press conference in Birmingham yesterday.

“Look, every time we play, we want to win, but India were the better side in the last few World Cups,” Mashrafe said when asked about his team’s chances. “We go out onto the field to play at our best, and let’s see. You never know. If you have a very good day, play every area, and if we are 100 percent correct, then you never know. It’s a sport that on your day you can beat anybody.”

All sportsmen present a veneer of confidence ahead of a contest, but Mashrafe seemed to struggle to maintain his.

“I’m not surprised,” Mashrafe answered when asked whether he expected the team to last this long in the World Cup. “I think there’s not too much left. We have to play at our best. If we can manage to win, that will be great, but to be honest, both sides [India and Pakistan, their next opponents] are very strong. It’s not going to be easy, but we have to play hard and have to be 100 percent in every area. Good thing that we’re still in the tournament, maybe, maybe not [after tomorrow], but let’s see. We have to play a lot better than what we have played.”

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