Bangladesh in Sri Lanka 2016-17 March 24, 2017

Need wins abroad, not just starts - Mashrafe


'I think Sri Lanka have a more matured squad in the ODIs than the Tests. It is not going to be easy for us' - Mashrafe Mortaza © Getty Images

Ahead of the first ODI against Sri Lanka in Dambulla, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza has said his side has to start winning games abroad and not just think about starting well.

He said that after winning against India, Pakistan and South Africa in ODI series' at home in 2015, Bangladesh's next target was to do the same in foreign conditions. Their 3-0 defeat, though, to New Zealand was a reminder that they still have a long way to go.

"Even if we are ahead of Sri Lanka, we have to play our best game," Mashrafe said. "In Tests, you need maturity to play long innings, but in ODIs, a couple of 60s and 70s can make a difference. We did well at home, but our challenge started in New Zealand. We couldn't do it there, despite creating a lot of chances. In the second and third ODI, we gave away good starts. We have to hold on to good starts here, both with bat and ball. Home teams have extra advantage. So, I think both teams are starting on equal."

Mashrafe refused to call themselves favourites, echoing the tone Bangladesh had maintained ahead of the Test series. Though they ended up losing the first Test by 259 runs in Galle, they came back strong to level the series.

He said that they have to stick to their plans, and if that doesn't happen, he wants his players to keep fighting till the end. "I never say anything extra. I think Sri Lanka have a more matured squad in the ODIs than the Tests. It is not going to be easy for us. A small innings can change things in the ODIs and T20Is. We have to try to execute our plans to the full, or we just have to fight till the end," he said.

Mashrafe added that they are not thinking about their ODI ranking, which could see a significant change at the end of this series. If they win 2-1 or 3-0, they will go up to as high as 96 points, which would level them with Sri Lanka at No. 6. If they lose by the same margin, they can go down to as low as 88 points, below Pakistan, to No. 8, reducing their chances of automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup.

"[Ranking] is always in the back of our mind, but only thinking about the 2019 World Cup would put a lot of pressure on the players," Mashrafe said. "They are enjoying cricket at the moment, which is the most important part. If we think about the ranking, we wouldn't be able to play our normal game. When we reached No. 7, we didn't think about rankings during those matches. It is hard to think about those things," he said.

On the eve of the first ODI, Mashrafe felt the Dambulla pitch was 'hard to predict'.

"It is hard to judge the wicket. We played here a long time ago. It looks good, but it is hard to predict whether it will start turning at some point. We have to be mentally ready that anything might happen. But, at first look, it seems a good batting wicket," he said.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shabbir on March 25, 2017, 16:02 GMT

    Well, with hindsight we can now see that Mash's comments about about converting starts to wins has come true. That the team were working a lot on this and look what Shakib and Tamim did to SL with the able assurance of Shabbir, Mossadek and Mahmadullah. Even from a bowling perspective, as I write, 147-5 and Mash is bowling at econ of 2.40 over 5 overs - leading from the front.

  • Khondaker on March 25, 2017, 7:22 GMT

    @CRICFAN8640485882, annual rating adjustment will not always ensure you higher ranking. It may also demote your rating as well. Note; that we lost to England and NZ recently in ODIs; this may matter a bit.

  • M.G. on March 24, 2017, 22:59 GMT

    Mash and other Ban players: Win Abroad or Not, STOP PREDICTING-SUGGESTING-BRAGGING-BOASTING prior to any game. That'll put extra pressure on YOU. Always be HUMBLE-NEUTRAL-RESPECTFUL-AMIABLE before the game. Good results will follow. Then you can talk a whole lot after the game is over. Please please please, follow this mantra for rest of your national player life, make the country proud, make the fans happy, and make your character enriched with pouring adulation from cricketers all walks of life. Go Tiger.

  • Sumon on March 24, 2017, 20:09 GMT

    "At least he does not make off the wall statements like the test team captain. Wish him godspeed." << I knew someone will make a comment like this. Last time Mushfiq was criticized for his comments prior to a series was, we want to translate our success at home in away series as well. And a lot of people criticized him. Well look at the results. I still dont understand what was wrong with his comments.

  • tablin on March 24, 2017, 18:12 GMT

    Cant wait to see Mashrafe in action

  • Ish on March 24, 2017, 18:05 GMT

    At least he does not make off the wall statements like the test team captain. Wish him godspeed.

  •   Mustafa Sarwari on March 24, 2017, 15:46 GMT

    Good luck team Bangladesh & Sri Lanka for the ODI series both are Asian teams we proud of you both fan from Afghanistan

  • pranto on March 24, 2017, 15:39 GMT

    Mashrafee I hope you stop persisting with terrible bowler like Taskin ahmed instead you should include rubel hossain.

  • tariqc3689959 on March 24, 2017, 14:59 GMT

    Small correction - Bangladesh only goes to 96 rating and takes the no. 6 spot right away with a 3-0 margin. 2-1 margin gets them to 93. In that case Bangladesh will probably move to no. 6 on May 1 due to annual ratings adjustment.

  • Ifzal Muhammad on March 24, 2017, 14:47 GMT

    Good Luck Team Bangladesh. Go Tigers .

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