Expectations were high ahead of the World Cup in England but upon the team’s return home yesterday, captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza spoke of his disappointment of not meeting their own expectations in the coveted tournament, although he lauded the poise from the youngsters.
Aside from Shakib Al Hasan, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Sabbir Rahman and Liton Das, all of whom are currently on vacation, the rest of the Tigers departed from Heathrow Airport on July 6.
Following their quarterfinal exit in the 2015 edition, the Tigers left for the ongoing World Cup with high hopes of reaching the semifinals for the first time in history.
The accumulation of experience and the fact that the team won their first multi-nation tournament just ahead of the World Cup during a tri-series on their tour of Ireland, where they beat West Indies in the final, provided the team with impetus going into the showpiece event.
Expectations were further justified when they began their campaign with a win against South Africa. However, results did not go their way when it mattered most. Given the format, where all ten teams played each other in the group stage, it was always going to be a tough ask. Yet, the Tigers finished well below the expected mark, ending in eighth place after having targeted a semifinal berth.
“We went there with expectations and from that point of view it is disappointing. If we look at the whole World Cup and how we played, if some things went in our favour, we could have played the semifinals. Overall it was a positive experience but at the same time, the expectations were higher and from that point of view, it was disappointing,” Mashrafe told reporters yesterday upon his arrival at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka.
The close defeat to New Zealand and the washed out match against Sri Lanka certainly played a hand but Mashrafe took responsibility nevertheless.
“As a captain, when the team does not fulfil expectations, then I will have to accept criticism. Of course I am taking full responsibility and at the same time it is normal that there will be criticism anywhere in the world after a big tournament,” the inspirational skipper added.
While his disappointment was evident when he suggested that ‘the chips were down’ in crucial matches, Mashrafe spoke highly of the youngsters’ efforts and said they should not be blamed, adding that some could match the levels of the current Big Five.
“It’s always the young players who are particularly blamed. Those who are seniors now, they were young once and not as consistent as they are now. The youngsters now are playing with a level of consistency and under a kind of intense pressure that we did not have to face when we were young,” Mashrafe said, referencing younger players like Mohammad Saifuddin, Mehedi, Mustafizur and Liton Das.
“So, they cannot be blamed unilaterally. They tried very hard. It is a big stage and it is not easy to perform here. I am hoping that with more experience they will reach the levels shown by Shakib, Tamim, Mushfiqur and Riyad.”
Lack of consistency played a key role for the captain in their campaign, which could have ended differently. However, Shakib Al Hasan performed magnificently throughout the tournament and the captain duly credited his star all-rounder.
“Shakib was outstanding. Shakib, Mushfiqur [Rahim], Mustafizur and Saifuddin played outstanding cricket. The others performed less consistently. At some particular points we needed luck to be on our side but that did not happen.”