Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said that the absence of Shakib Al Hasan due to illness made winning the first ODI against New Zealand imperative. Shakib was hospitalised with a high temperature the night before the game and was later diagnosed with dengue fever.
"We really needed this win," Mushfiqur said after Bangladesh had taken a 1-0 lead. "Shakib wasn't in the team. It is a big loss. He played very well against them last time. So I tried telling everyone that we shouldn't lose in our minds before we have actually lost."
In the 2010 home series against New Zealand that Bangladesh won 4-0, Shakib was the highest run-scorer and wicket-taker, and he had led the side too after Mashrafe Mortaza was injured in the first game. Three years on, Shakib was once again expected to recreate the same performance only to be sidelined with illness.
The 43-run victory by D/L method was only Bangladesh's sixth win without Shakib since his ODI debut in August 2006. They had beaten West Indies last year at home without him.
"We won 3-2 against West Indies last year without him, and I thought that we could have won 5-0 had he been in the team," Mushfiqur said. "We will always miss him, although we may not see him in this series."
Mushfiqur was one of those who stepped up. Though Bangladesh had lost three wickets by the seventh over, he attacked the bowlers whenever they gave him room or strayed on to the pads. He was particularly aggressive against the spinners, and forced Nathan McCullum out of the attack. He fell for 90 off 97 balls, his first half-century score after eight innings.
Mushfiqur also praised Naeem Islam, who scored 84 and put on 154 for the fourth wicket. Naeem was a last-minute replacement for Shakib and he was making a comeback after last playing in December 2012.
"I have no regrets [for not getting the hundred] because the team won. I felt a little bad not to complete the century because I hadn't scored a fifty in quite a while," Mushfiqur said. "I was determined to give it my all today, get a partnership going. Naeem played very well. He supported me. We really needed it at the time. Everyone helps each other, not just the seniors, the younger players also chip in."
Mushfiqur is looking forward to winning the series in the second match, but he wouldn't necessarily change the winning combination. However, the dew factor and Rubel Hossain's success means he might still think about it.
"There is not much of a chance [of playing three seamers], although we have the option of picking Ziaur Rahman. The spinners didn't bowl too badly. Dew also has an adverse affect on the pace bowlers as it becomes slightly easier to play them when it skids through."