Mashrafe Mortaza, Bangladesh's ODI captain, was pleased with the manner in which his team bounced back with a seven-wicket win over South Africa in the second ODI in Mirpur, levelling the three-match series with one game still to be played. Bangladesh had lost the T20 series against South Africa 2-0 and went down by eight wickets in the first ODI. The win on Sunday was their first since the second ODI against India last month.
Bangladesh had felt the weight of expectations ahead of the game and Mashrafe had little time to re-gather his troops, with the team's training session delayed following a meeting with the BCB president Nazmul Hasan on Saturday. The Bangladesh captain was happy that the team had responded to his call to think about the process of winning rather than focus only on winning.
"The chemistry of the team is quite normal," Mashrafe said. "I wanted to see how the team reacts in a bad situation. They didn't take it well and that is how a good team responds. I thank my team-mates. We didn't get more than a day's training but they were mentally strong. It looked good from outside and also when we were out fielding."
He also lauded the batsmen for paying heed to the discussions about their individual roles, particularly after they failed to put up a fight in recent matches. Soumya Sarkar was one of the batsmen who fell after getting starts. On Sunday, he battled hard before flourishing to make a match-winning 88 not out. Rubel Hossain and Mahmudullah, both making comebacks into the team, had important contributions.
"We were thinking too much about winning. I wanted everyone to understand that you can win after playing out 600 balls in a match," Mashrafe said. "Thankfully we got a good start in the game. From the moment Rubel took Hashim Amla's wicket, we were fully in the game. I had some concern about our batting but we discussed a lot, which was more important than training. We talked about how we will start our innings, finish it and make it longer. It was good that Soumya finished the game. Riyad [Mahmudullah] was playing only his second game after returning from a finger injury which is never easy for any batsman."
Mashrafe also made a significant difference with his belief in the team and his tactics. He ensured that none of the South Africa batsmen were given time to settle against one type of bowler, and he took a calculated risk of finishing Shakib Al Hasan's ten overs early while still ensuring the likes of Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel were given the ball, when the side was looking for wickets.
"Bowling changes depend on the situation. I wanted to do a lot of things today. I finished Shakib's over quite early, which was a bit risky," he said. "But I was looking for a couple of wickets from him. I brought back Mustafizur at one point and he got me a wicket. Rubel and Riyad also bowled at stages when I needed wickets and they got us the breakthroughs. I always use my instinct as a captain.
"I always feel that a batsman is not set until he takes a single comfortably. Hitting two consecutive boundaries doesn't make him set. I want our bowlers to believe in this too. I don't want to give away a single easily. But if you don't bowl well, it is hard to control such things. It was easy today but I always want a batsman to not get set at the crease by taking singles."