Saturday, November 25, 2017

Bangladesh need Mahmudullah at Champions Trophy, says Mashrafe

  • Ariful Islam Roney,
    Published: 2017-03-14 23:36:36 BdST


Bangladesh cricket witnessed a turn of events on Monday regarding a decision on sending Mahmudullah Riyad back from Sri Lanka which caused confusion over his place in the ODI team.

After being dropped from the second Test, Mahmudullah was named in the 16-man ODI squad against Sri Lanka at the end of the day.

The Tigers’ limited-overs captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza made clear his view on the matter in an exclusive interview with on Tuesday.

Q. A lot happened yesterday on keeping or leaving out Mahmudullah from the team. How do you see it?

Mashrafe: At first, I’d like to say, what happened at the end was for the best. I’ve been hearing a lot of stuff for the last few days. Yesterday I heard different things every time; nothing was clear to me. I became restless. Later, it was somehow resolved, that’s what matters.

Q. Your actions behind the scenes are also being discussed...

Mashrafe: Right, it came to me as well. I took part in small discussions, nothing major. But the solution is what counts. The Board chief took the initiative. The solution was positive and what happened, in the end, is good for Riyad.

Q. If he was left out, as a captain would you have missed him?

Mashrafe: I would 'definitely' have missed him. You can say that he is going through a tough time. He’s not getting runs in Tests. But one-dayers are a different ball game. It is often the case that when you psychologically feel more confident, more comfortable by playing in some other format. He may not be in the form he was in 2015, but what he has now is not lacking enough to leave someone like him out.

There’s more. We have crucial times ahead of us. This series [against Sri Lanka] is vital to maintaining out [ODI] ranking. Then we have the series against Ireland and Champions Trophy. These will be followed by series against Pakistan and South Africa. Losing Riyad will not be good for us before the Champions Trophy in particular. Bringing in someone new now, how he will do in critical moments or big tournaments, I am not quite sure. It will also be enormous pressure for that new cricketer.

But I can have faith on Riyad. Be it the 2011 World Cup or 2015; he did well in crucial matches at big tournaments. He knows what to do in these situations.

He did not have a good time in our last New Zealand series. But before that in the series against England, he played superbly in desperate situations to bring the team victory. Besides that, he is a senior cricketer. He plays an influential role in the dressing room.

The Tests are a different topic. But as a captain, I can say, Riyad is still one of the impact players of the team in limiter-overs. People may consider runs and wickets, but as a captain, I prioritise who can give how much for the team in times of need. Taking that into account, I don’t see an alternative for Riyad. So discarding him now is not a solution. Rather having him back to his best before the Champions Trophy will benefit the team.

Q. But the pressure on Mahmudullah is now enormous after the way things happened. Doesn’t it make performing well even harder?

Mashrafe: Obviously harder, but that’s the challenge. He doesn’t have the chance to show any excuses here. Things are not always smooth for a cricketer. Many things will not be in favour, won’t be ideal. When he returned after the [2015] World Cup, he was on top of the world. Now things are different. Times are sometimes against you. The challenge is to win in those.

I’d tell him to see this as an opportunity, not as pressure. He should think about how he can do on the field. And because he is in the team, it means the board president and selectors have shown him respect. I want him to return the favour through his performance.

Q. The effort you put behind Mahmudullah, do you do the same for the others? Or would you in future?

Mashrafe: You see, I don’t officially have such privilege. Yet when something came to mind, if there was someone I wanted [in the team], I’ve always tried to voice my opinion in my way.

So much is said about Nasir [Hossain]. When Nasir was not doing well with the bat, I tried to get his confidence back by getting him to bowl more. I wanted him to hold on to his spot by doing something.

Nasir played at the last England series after almost a year. He did not play in the first match. In the next match I felt I’ll need him. I tried. The board chief helped me out that time too. While the tension rose among all the parties, the board chief asked me, “What do you want?”  I told him I want Nasir. In that match Nasir scored an unbeaten 27 and was part of a good partnership with me. Later he got Moeen Ali out, bowled really well. But he did poorly in the next match and was later left out.

Then again there were times when I could not do it. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not always possible. Because I have also have to listen to the others. It is a matter of opinion among five-six persons... I must consider what others want too.

Also it’s not that I’m always right. Many decisions don’t work...I just try, will try to do things my way. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.