“To be honest, after winning, I am not hurting anymore,” Mushfiqur said in the post-match press conference at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. “I don’t know how much you know about this, but I always believe that the team comes first. If I scored a century, and we scored 260 but lost the match, I wouldn’t have felt good. This is not just lip service, but comes from my heart.”
Bangladesh were reduced to 12 for 3 after skipper Mashrafe Mortaza won the toss and elected to bat. Rahim, who scored a match-defining 144 against Sri Lanka in Bangladesh’s opening game, once again made an invaluable contribution and constructed a 144-run partnership with Mohammad Mithun (60) to bring his team back on track. However, Bangladesh couldn't churn out too many runs in the death overs and were bowled out for 239 in 48.4 overs.
In reply, Imam-ul-Haq (83) fought a lone battle for Pakistan as the other batsmen had no answers to Mustafizur Rahman (4 for 43) and Mehidy Hasan's (2 for 28) canny tricks.
Rahim rated it as one of his best knocks and also heaped praise on Mithun. "This (innings) is definitely top five. We needed one partnership badly at that time," he said. “The wicket was pretty good to bat on and we knew that with the quality Pakistan had with the new ball we knew that we might lose a couple of early wickets; that can happen to any side.
“But the way we bounced back was very important. And I think I should credit Mithun as well because the way he batted – he played very well in the first game and was under pressure in the next two games – but the way he backed himself was great from a young cricketer, seeing him play his shots and everything. The plan was to just knock the ball around in the first couple of overs because we knew that after losing three wickets the team (Pakistan) would be geared up and charged up against us. So we coped with the pressure really well in the first part and in the latter part we carried on with the run rate.”
While in the match against Sri Lanka Rahim almost batted till the end, he failed to do the same against Pakistan. The 31-year-old missed the 100-run landmark by just one, missing out on what would have been his seventh One-Day International century. He fell to Shaheen Afridi's outswinger in the 42nd over in search of a single.
“My disappointment (at getting out) was heightened because, as I kept saying after going into the dressing room, as a set batsman I should have batted at least until the 48th over," he said. "With the bowling quality they have even at the death, it is not easy to hit when you are new to the crease. We barely scored 100 runs (103) in the last 20 overs. So it was obviously disappointing for me. But I think the team winning is most important.”
Bangladesh were without their two best players - Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan. While Tamim fractured his wrist in the opening match, Shakib had to fly back home after worsening his injured little finger ahead of the all-important encounter. Rahim said his captain Mortaza's "insipirational" words motivated him and the entire team.
"Mashrafe bhai told us one thing... we talked about one thing: when at war, you don’t look back. Either kill or be killed -- one or the other. So that was a huge inspiration, because when you are at war you don’t look at who your captain is, who’s there or not there,” said Rahim.
“You have to fight 100 per cent with what you have. So we thought that if we give our 100 per cent without thinking about the result. There will come a time when I won’t be there -- no one is there forever. The five of us (seniors Mashrafe, Shakib, Tamim, Mahmudullah and I) will not be there at one point but even then you have to go on. So this was the talk and everyone was pumped up from there.”
Asia Cup 2018bangladeshmashrafe mortazaMehidy HasanMohammad MithunMushfiqur Rahimmustafizur rahmanShaheen Afridishakib al hasanTamim Iqbal
First Published: September 27, 2018, 10:03 AM IST