“I hadn’t thought about it. You shouldn’t have reminded me.”
Mashrafe Mortaza had a wry smile on his face when he was asked about Bangladesh’s three previous finals at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. They famously went very close twice, but the home side has never won any tri-nation series or a tournament that involves more than two teams.
In the 2009 tri-nation series final, Sri Lanka lost five wickets for just six runs, till today the lowest score at the fall of the fifth wicket in an ODI, as Mashrafe Mortaza and Nazmul Hossain blasted out most of the top order. Kumar Sangakkara got them out of the mess before Muttiah Muralitharan’s unbeaten 33 helped them over the line by two wickets.
Three years later, Bangladesh went as close as two runs of Pakistan’s total in the Asia Cup final but was closed out by Aizaz Cheema’s fine last over. The crying faces of Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim became the poignant image of the final. Mashrafe, Shakib, Tamim, Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah were also around when India beat them in the rain-interrupted final of the 2016 Asia Cup T20s.
In the current tri-nation series, Bangladesh crushed Sri Lanka by 163 runs, their biggest win in an ODI, while also trouncing Zimbabwe twice, before the implosion in the final round-robin game. So whether in jest or not, Mashrafe doesn’t want to be reminded of those painful memories of old. Instead, he said, it is better if his team stressed on keeping the mindset that has got them three big wins in this series already.
“This is a new opportunity for all our players,” Mashrafe continued. “I think myself, Mushfiqur, Shakib and Tamim played all three finals. So this is another opportunity for us.
“Tomorrow is a completely new game, so we don’t need to think about what happened previously,” he said. “We should play the way we did in the first three matches of this tournament. Maybe we didn’t deliver yesterday, so we should not be thinking about it anymore.”
Mashrafe said that, in a way, their crushing loss in the last league game would put less pressure on their side going into the final. “We really want to win the final, since it will be a first for us at this level. It is better if we think less about all these things. There’s always pressure in a final.
“In fact I think the pressure would have become less after that defeat. It will depend on how we start the game; we should use better judgement. The team that will handle the tough situations better, will obviously be ahead.”