A brilliant tournament for us - Mashrafe

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza conceded that despite the loss to India in the quarter-final the World Cup was a "brilliant tournament" for the side with plenty of positives, specially in the batting

A quick finish loomed when Nasir Hossain, the last of Bangladesh's specialist batsmen, was caught at cover in the 43rd over. In came Mashrafe Mortaza, the captain, trudging slowly across the unending outfield. An over later, he was walking the same length again with that gingerly walk - head down, a man disappointed by the manner of surrender in Bangladesh's biggest match after a season of pluses. One over later, Bangladesh's exit was a reality.
The MCG's dimensions can be disconcerting, more so when you have to walk them again and again, contemplating the past month, the highs of qualifying after fighting wins, and ruing missed opportunities.
When Mashrafe arrived at the media centre a few minutes later, he had done another long walk from the other side of the ground. He sat with a pale expression, hands brushing the hair, and spoke in a low, cracking voice, keeping his answers brief, till he finally caught a draft of positivity and opened up about the team's campaign.
"It was brilliant tournament for us," Mashrafe said. "Obviously the way we played today, it wasn't great, but most of the players in our side, from 2008 haven't had any cricket in Australia. So it was a real ask for us. But the way the boys adjusted to the wickets and conditions, I feel very proud as the captain of this team, and hopefully our boys will take it in the next series.
"I think, except today, our batters have batted really well throughout this tournament, which is much needed for us," he said. "And hopefully they'll continue because a very tough year is coming for us. And I think the confidence we got, hopefully it will continue."
The quarter-final loss brought to an end an encouraging World Cup for Bangladesh, a tournament which had contributions across the board, not just from the big-name players. That synergy worked in their favour again as they found a controlling mechanism after conceding 75 in 16.3 overs to India's openers.
For the next 15 overs, Mashrafe seemed less a captain and more a traffic warden: he would stand next to the stumps and wave his hands to set the fields just right. A few edges were found, but India slipped through the grip to counter in the last stages. From that point, Bangladesh could not recover.
"I think our plan was to stop singles," he said. "Yes, they can hit three, four or six, but our plan is to stop singles, and I think our plan was pretty good. We were a bit unlucky that we couldn't get a wicket at that time. If we could get one wicket it would be much better for us, but the way Rohit and Suresh played, it was brilliant. Hopefully it will carry on for them, and good luck to India.
"We always knew that they'll come hard after 35 (overs) they have been brilliant after 35. They take calculated risks, and they've had success. Once again, we couldn't bowl with our plans, and that was the moment, during bowling time."
India scored 147 runs in the last 15 overs. It was during this period that Rohit Sharma was reprieved by the umpires after he hit a high full-toss straight to the fielder at deep midwicket. The umpires deemed it too high, although replays showed it would have been fine.
Mashrafe protested the decision, but that moment gnawed hard on Bangladesh's concentration. Misfields crept up, bowlers served up length balls at the death earning ire from the captain, and another no-ball was conceded because there were not enough fielders in the ring. It was in that period that Bangladesh appeared stretched and they never recovered.
However, once the disappointment of the loss settles, Bangladesh can look back at the strides they have made on this trip. The batting gains in Mahmudullah, Soumya Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman, the bowling form of Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed, the return to confidence of Nasir, and that new-found edge in temperament. Think of how broken this side was six months ago. Under Mashrafe, the old-timer, they are already on the path of recovery.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo