‘This is the best pace attack we have had in 20-25 years'
Who better than Mashrafe Bin Mortaza to talk to regarding Bangladesh's upcoming T20 World Cup journey in Oman and the UAE? The Daily Star's Ramin Talukder caught up with the man who led the Tigers to a number of glories and also in the previous edition of the marquee event in 2016. And the former skipper shared his views on different aspects -- from Bangladesh's preparation, his expectations from the team to how the team has changed since their last showing in the same event five years back.
On how the team improved since the 2016 T20 World Cup in India:
This team has definitely improved a lot. You can gauge the improvement just by considering how they beat two big sides [Australia and New Zealand] recently. Many may say that Bangladesh won due to having home advantage but the truth is, we never achieved anything like this before.
On his expectations from Bangladesh in the World Cup:
Like every other fan, I too hope that Bangladesh will play in the semifinals this time.
On how good a preparation Bangladesh got from playing at slow Mirpur wickets in their recent series:
The confidence we got from those wins [seven wins out of last 10 games] in Mirpur is very important. Also, the IPL in the UAE isn't producing high-scoring contests. Due to frequent fixtures at the same venue, the pitch curators are unable to make top wickets even if they want to. Obviously, ICC will try to prepare better surfaces, but how much better can they make the pitches just after the IPL is also a concern. The surfaces will definitely be better than Mirpur but I think our batters and bowlers will still be effective there.
On how Bangladesh can cope with having no finisher in the squad:
There are deficits in every team. What matters is how the team manages and overcomes the areas of weakness. And I think the group of players that we have are very much capable and the team management also has faith in them.
On who could become the best performer for Bangladesh:
I do not want to pick a single player and say that he can outperform others as everyone is very capable. Also, how Bangladesh as a team is doing is more important than who is performing better individually.
On Bangladesh's pace department:
I think the current pace attack is the best that we ever had. Taskin [Ahmed] improved a lot, Mustafizur [Rahman] is always the best while Shoriful [Islam] is surprisingly bowling extremely well since he came into the national side. And then there is [Mohammad] Saifuddin who is an outstanding bowler at the death and he can also bat. I don't think we have had such a bowling attack in the last 20-25 years.
On his hopes from Bangladesh players:
I am hoping that anyone from Bangladesh will be the top performer. We already have the world-class Shakib Al Hasan, who showed his mettle in the 2019 50-over World Cup. Then there is Mushfiqur [Rahim] and Mahmudullah [Riyad]. Aside from the seniors we have Mustafizur, Taskin and also Liton Das. So, I am hopeful.
On the Tigers' chances if they play as a team:
We probably do not have players who can single-handedly win us matches. Maybe Shakib can do that. And on his day, Mushfiqur can do it as well. But it's not possible every day without a helping hand. As I have observed, on days we play as a team, no other team stand a chance against us.