Mashrafe reaps rewards with four-card trick
When a team that has for years used spinners for most situations suddenly picks four front-line pace bowlers, it was natural for all eyes to turn on the captain. Mashrafe Mortaza crossed that first bridge with a win. And he delivered a line that summed up what he has been feeling in the lead-up to the first ODI against India: "Fortune favours the brave."
Even a man of Mashrafe's never-say-die attitude needed a bit of extra courage to not only pick four pace bowlers but use them properly. The attack, consisting of Mashrafe himself, Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed and debutant Mustafizur Rahman came out with eight wickets for 160 runs in 31.2 overs. Mustafizur became the second Bangladesh debutant after Taskin to take a five-for on ODI debut while Mashrafe and Taskin bowled with efficiency.
"We had one thought that we should pick an attack that will help us win," Mashrafe said. "I have preferred picking three pace bowlers since I became captain last year. Bowlers will win you matches. Arafat Sunny has done tremendously well for us but we thought that Mustafizur's variation would be effective on this surface. Of course if we had failed to defend 307 runs, you would have asked a lot of questions but fortune favours the brave."
Mashrafe said the Bangladesh players weren't confounded when Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan started off quickly in the chase. India were 66 for no loss at the end of the tenth over and went on to add 95 for the first wicket before Dhawan was dismissed in the 16th over.
"India started off very well but on this wicket you can give away 65-70 runs in the first ten overs. We made about 79 in the first ten overs too," Mashrafe said. "Our bowlers weren't puzzled when they got off to such a start. Everyone was prepared to fight till the last ball. Partnerships can happen but the boys gave a big effort today."
The main reason behind picking the four-man pace attack was to use Mustafizur's variation on a pitch that responded to cutters. The youngster backed his captain's mindset, finishing with 5 for 50 in 9.2 overs.
"Mustafizur, we thought, would be brand new to them," he said. "They must have thought I would open the bowling but we wanted to change things a bit. From the time I saw Mustafizur bowl in the nets and use his variations, I knew we needed him in the middle.
"Keeping him away from the XI would have done the team harm. Some of his cutters are unplayable as it turns more than spinners. You could see that their bats were turning in their hands, as they top-edged those catches. I was fully confident that he could do the job for us."
The Bangladesh captain was pleased with how the Bangladesh batsmen gave yet another efficient display by raising their score past the 300-run mark. This, despite losing their way after the opening partnership of 102 runs was broken and India took three more quick wickets to reduce them to 146 for four in the 24th over.
This was the ninth time that Bangladesh crossed the 300-run mark and the third this year. They have only lost once after scoring 300 runs.
"We have been batting well since the Pakistan series. The openers set the tone and although we lost a few wickets after the rain break, I thought we recovered very well through Shakib and Sabbir. I am very happy that we are playing fearless cricket," he said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84