Hope we can play good cricket against India, says Mashrafe Mortaza

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Melbourne, Mar 18: Wary of the damage that India's in-form top-order batting can cause, Bangladesh cricket captain Mashrafe Mortaza today said he does not know what would be a good score if his team bats first in the World Cup quarter-final against the defending champions here tomorrow.

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"I don't know what's a good target, that can be set for this Indian team, as they have one of the best batting line-ups in world. It is very difficult for me to predict. India are good at chasing down totals," the Bangladesh skipper's apprehension was palpable during the press conference on the eve of the quarter-final.

'Hope we can play good cricket'

"Hope we can play overall good cricket as then we can even defend a target of 270-280," he said.

Bangladesh's skipper and pace spearhead has a lot of reverence for his opposite number as he termed Dhoni as a genuine match-winner.

"Dhoni is a tremendous player and a genuine match-winner. As an ODI batsman, he's done everything he can for India in the last five or six years, maybe even more than that. Virat Kohli is also there. But overall I think Indian batting is the best in the world, so it will be a challenge for us," the skipper conceded.

Mortaza, however, tried to put up a brave face considering the challenge that the team will encounter in a formidable opposition like India. The majority of crowd will be in India's favour, they know the conditions well having been here for more than three months.

But Mortaza said that "cricket is played on the ground and not theoretically.

"Clearly India are ahead of us if these are factors are taken into account but you don't fight on field thinking about these external factors. Cricket is not lip-service as you need to perform on the field. Yes, overall the Indian team is ahead of us but if we ought to have a good match then we have to play well," said Mortaza, who has 189 wickets from 146 matches.

The soft-spoken Mortaza didn't want to dwell too much on his match-winning performance of 4/38 against India at Port of Spain eight years ago during the 2007 World Cup.

"Yeah, that was a long time ago, I think, eight years back. It's a happy memory but you don't want to look back now. We have to focus on the present. We have some good young players in our team, and they're performing throughout this tournament. So hopefully they can come up tomorrow in the middle and deliver their best," he said.

'It's a dream we are all living'

Mortaza credited his team's success to adaptability after a poor last season.

"I think all credit should go to the boys the way they're training the last two months, the way they've quickly adapted to this kind of wicket. I would say last year was a bit difficult for us because it's not that we haven't played good cricket but we couldn't finish it out. That was, I think, why we lose more matches last year," he said.

Mortaza is leading a team that has two ex-captains, Shakib-Al-Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim but that hasn't created problems for him.

"They are ex-captains but that's never been a problem as we always have had discussions. We have stayed united even in earlier times when there's been a change of guard. These things never bother us," said Mortaza.

He outrightly dismissed suggestions that toss will be a factor. "I don't think toss would be a factor. You don't compose teams based on toss and factors like these."

The media hype has been such in Bangladesh that everyone is talking about the "Great Bangla Dream" but Mortaza, like Shakib, was practical in his approach.

"It is a dream that we are all living it but again you have to know that there's no end to one's dreams. First, there were expectations whether we would qualify for second round and now whether we would get to the semi-finals. But we want to concentrate on what's there in our hands and that's tomorrow's match," the 31-year-old said.

But Mortaza time and again reiterated that Bangladesh does not have anything to lose even though momentum is with India. "There is no reason to fear.

India have momentum as they have won a lot. For us, we are playing as per expectations. We can have bad times but we hope we do things correctly and play well on the day," he added.

PTI

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