Debasis Sen, Dubai: Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe Mortaza do not mince words and is widely respected for his straight forward approach. Mashrafe, easily one of the most inspiring captains in Bnagladesh team after Shaquib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim spoke exclusively to XtraTime on the upcoming clash against India on September 21 at Dubai International Stadium. In a freewheeling chat the Bangladesh captain spoke about Tamim Iqbal’s injury, the recent India-Bangladesh rivalry, scheduling of the tournament and more . Here are the excerpts:
XT: Mashraffe, recently the India-Bangladesh matches has generated no less interest than the Indo-Pak clash. What are your thoughts?
Mashrafe: I am sure every team wants to win the matches. There has been a bit of bitterness after that World Cup 2015 exit. I think we try our best to win against every opponent not only India. We have only played India three times post the 2015 World Cup, once in Champions Trophy and twice during the home series. We nearly beat them in the World T20 match held in Bangalore.
India Bangladesh matches has also created similar hype across both the countries not so like the India-Pakistan clashes but yes it has been keenly followed. As a player I can only think about winning matches for your country.
XT: What are the expectations of the fans back home whenever you take on India?
Mashrafe: Fans back home expect us to win every match irrespective of the opponents you are playing against. So the expectation is always there even if we play Zimbabwe or India. So, it is nothing new that there will always be expectation
XT: You have lashed at the scheduling of the tournament. Will it work to your disadvantage having to play back to back matches against Afghanistan and India?
Mashrafe: I am not talking about who is getting an advantage or disadvantage but if you look at our group stage we are No 2 already before we play another match. So even if we end up winning our match against Afghanistan (Bangladesh play Afghanistan on Thursday in Abu Dhabi), we have to play India as the No 2 team in our Group which is unfortunate. It is difficult but we are playing for our country and that is enough motivation for us. We are playing on September 20 (Afghanistan) and following day we are forced to play a strong team like India. It is difficult all I can say.
XT: What do you tell your players when playing against a team like India which has so many stars?
Mashrafe: Cricket of for that matter any game is not run by stars. On field you have to perform at your best. So we have to plan and play with our own performance rather than thinking who plays against us. If we can execute our plans and play accordingly we can win against any opponent otherwise you have to end up on the losing side.
XT: Will Kohli’s absence in Indian team work to your advantage on Friday?
Mashrafe: Why only Bangladesh, his (Kohli) absence is an advantage for everyone. We are also missing Tamim Iqbal which can be advantage for every other team. His record speaks for itself as he has been a star for Bangladesh. Obviously his absence will be a big blow for us but it also presents a huge opportunity for the other youngsters.
Click on the link below to watch the entire interview of Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza: