Stirring Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe bin Mortaza is undoubtedly more than just a captain in this team. Bangladesh cricket reached new heights under his leadership since 2015 World Cup. Statistics wise captain Mashrafe is indisputably the most successful captain in Bangladesh’s ODI history. In 77 matches under his belt, the team Tigers won 44, losing 31 with other two had no results, with a staggering winning ratio of 58.66.
Between April 2015 and October 2016, Bangladesh won five one-day international series in a row against Pakistan, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan. Bangladesh showed they can compete with cricket's elite nations when they advanced to the Champions Trophy semifinals two years ago from a strong group featuring England, Australia and New Zealand.
All these success stories came under the leadership of Mashrafe. Therefore, in the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales, Mashrafe and Co. have no boundaries to their success. The recent tri-series win in Ireland will also play as a huge confidence booster for this buoyant and hungry Tigers roster.
According to experts, Bangladesh’s success on World Cup will be judged on whether they can reach the semifinals or not. Tournament will be played in a round robin format, where each competitor plays in turn against every other. So, to secure a top 4 berth, Tigers have to be at their absolute best.
Mashrafe said a semifinal place is their goal, but he admits it will be tough to get that far. “At the moment I think going to the semifinals will be big challenge, but nothing is impossible,” Mashrafe said before leaving Dhaka for England. “Of course, it is possible, difficult though. In the past a win over one big team in the group stage might have been enough, it would have made a comeback difficult for them. But here we have nine games.
“Those who are expecting to play in the semifinals they will have plenty of opportunities to come back. We have to be careful about it.” While Bangladesh’s biggest strength is their team unity, they have weaknesses that might hurt them on the big occasion. In an era when sides often chase down targets well in excess of 300 runs with ease, Tigers lack enough big hitters to do that.
So far, Bangladesh have successfully chased a 300-plus target only twice, a record Mashrafe concedes they must improve on in this World Cup. “You see we are not accustomed to chasing 320 or 340. At the same time, we cannot restrict the opposition to 270 or 280 on a regular basis,” he said ahead of their World Cup opener against South Africa on June 2
Tigers’ fans see this World Cup as an opportunity to achieve the impossible as in terms of experience and balance, this squad is Bangladesh’s best ever in the World Cup. On top of that, under Mashrafe’s inspiring leadership, Tigers certainly can push their limits and go for glory.