Bangladesh cannot lose sight of their need to improve consistently after the ODI series win over West Indies, their captain Mashrafe Mortaza has warned. The 18-run win in Basseterre on Saturday came after Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Mashrafe combined to put up a big score, before Rubel Hossain and Mehidy Hasan Miraz took key wickets to stall the home side's progress, leaving Rovman Powell, despite his big-hitting, too much to do in the last 10 overs.
"If you consider the last three or four months, we really needed to win this series," Mashrafe said. "It is a good sign ahead of the Asia Cup. But we have a lot to improve. A series win isn't everything. We have missed out on a lot of areas. Rubel did exactly what the team needed, which is a sign of our improvement but we need them consistently. We need to improve in our batting too.
"I think we were still short by 20-25 runs. We should have taken an early wicket because they have a top-heavy line-up. Getting rid of [Evin] Lewis early meant that Gayle had a bigger challenge. He was going well but Rubel's breakthrough eased it for the rest of the bowlers. Getting regular wickets worked in our favour."
Mashrafe said the players had needed a couple of days to get the three-run loss in the second ODI out of their systems, and the desire within the team to bounce back was what helped them in the third game.
"There's always an aftershock [following such a close defeat]. We regrouped in the two days in between," Mashrafe said. "We had optional training, so only those who needed to train went out.
"We said to each other that we needed to use this last opportunity to win the series. I think this win will be a turning point for our mental strength."
Tamim Iqbal, who was adjudged player of the match for his second hundred in the ODI series and player of the series for being the highest scorer with 287 runs, said coming back after a disastrous Test series made the ODI series win more pleasing. Bangladesh broke many unenviable records with their batting performances in the two Tests.
"It is a very pleasing win," he said. "I think we won an ODI series [for the first time] after 2016 although we won matches during this period. It was very important that we did well in the ODI series after the way the Test matches went.
"We came back strongly in the first ODI and although we should have won the second game too, nobody gave up hope. I think it was the most pleasing aspect. The best feeling is when you score runs and your team wins. I think my hard work paid off. I was patient in all three matches."
After Tamim fell for 103, Bangladesh needed to press on in the last 11.5 overs. Mashrafe promoted himself to No 6, adding 53 runs for the fifth wicket with Mahmudullah. Bangladesh reaching a 300-plus total was only possible through his 25-ball 36, and Mahmudullah's unbeaten 49-ball 67.
Mashrafe said coach Steve Rhodes wanted to start the big hitting from the 35th over, which is why Mashrafe moved himself up- the order.
"Coach wanted to change the trigger after 35 overs. So I told him that I should go," Mashrafe said. "It would be harder for a batsman to start hitting as there's a value to his wicket. I thought I should take the risk. Coached backed me.
"I always feel at ease seeing [Mahmudullah] Riyad at the wicket. We have had small partnerships in the past. He has always done well in the crisis moments. I think Tamim, Shakib, Mushfiqur and Riyad were outstanding in this series."