Mushfiqur lifted by rout of Zimbabwe
Mushfiqur Rahim has urged his team-mates to take inspiration from their 8-0 drubbing of Zimbabwe last year, ahead of the World Cup. Mushfiqur felt that since Bangladesh could recover from a horrid 2014 to comprehensively beat their closest rival, the players' confidence should be higher within the ranks.
It was the most positive message yet out of Bangladesh's training camp which on Tuesday, entailed to short simulated sessions when the batsmen and bowlers were given eight simulated scenarios to win. Bangladesh will train for two more days before a break on Friday and their flight to Brisbane on Saturday.
Mushfiqur said that good vibes were coming together for the Bangladesh team since the Zimbabwe series as some players have also come back to the side through good form in the domestic one-day competition. Prior to Zimbabwe arriving in the country in October last year, Bangladesh had won only two out of 27 international matches across the three formats. They subsequently went on to win 3-0 in the Test series and 5-0 in the ODIs.
"We really did well in the last series [against Zimbabwe] despite having a poor 2014," Mushfiqur said. "We had to play our best to get the best result, whoever the opposition and whatever the format. If we win against Zimbabwe, we don't get any credit but if we lose to them, a lot is said. We were under a lot of pressure, but we beat them 8-0. It really was a boost for us, made us confident.
"Some of us have also done well in the Dhaka Premier League to get into the side so overall, we are in the good position. I personally think that if we play with guts, we will get a good result. We have a chance to prove ourselves."
Mushfiqur said that Bangladesh have the ability to make it to the quarterfinals if several players can string together good performances. He even predicted that a couple of their batsmen could go toe-to-toe with the best in the world during the tournament. So far, no Bangladeshi has scored a World Cup century, with Mohammad Ashraful's 87 against South Africa in 2007 being the highest score.
"Most of us have the ability, there are more performers. The whole scene changes if five of us perform together. In that case we can hope to play in the quarterfinals. If we can start well, the tournament will get better for us.
"Some are anxious but I feel it is possible for Bangladesh to do well in those conditions. I think we may see a couple of Bangladeshi batsmen among the top five batsmen at this World Cup. We are preparing for it, now we are bracing to implement it in the matches. Our target will be to do something special."
Mushfiqur felt the conditions were likely to ease out in Australia over the course of the summer, and that the wickets there would lose their sting. He said that if conditions permit, Bangladesh could open the bowling with spinners, though they will be without their two best new-ball spinners in ODIs.
"The spinners are doing well over there. Three specialist spinners are playing in New Zealand. Some are saying that since the World Cup will be played towards the end of the Australian season, there will be lesser pace and bounce, maybe no seam movements. We have plans to open the bowling with spin. We have two weeks ahead of us in Brisbane when we will plan according to the conditions."
Mushfiqur also said that it is time for him to deliver at the World Cup after a poor campaign in 2011 when he scored just 81 runs in six matches. He had started the 2007 World Cup with an unbeaten 56, impressing one and all with his maturity to control the chase in the famous win over India, but could not manage a single 50-plus score across the two tournaments after that match. Overall, his average in this tournament is 21.20 while his career ODI batting average stands at 28.92. Now, he hopes to bring his form of 2013 and 2014 to the World Cup.
"It will be great if I can do well in the World Cup. I didn't do particularly well in 2007 and 2011 so the effort would be towards doing well this time, by continuing on my form from the last two years."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84