While it may seem that being the first Bangladesh player to suffer the misfortune of getting out on 99 in international cricket would disappoint a player who strives endlessly for personal excellence, Mushfiqur Rahim was not bothered with the near-miss after Bangladesh won the Asia Cup match against Pakistan by 37 runs on Wednesday and moved into Friday’s final against India.
“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.”
In the opening match of the tournament against Sri Lanka on September 15, Mushfiqur’s 144 rescued the team from a precarious position. He did much the same here, except that he could not complete what would have been his seventh ODI century and while he was out in the 50th over against Sri Lanka, he perished to a Shaheen Shah Afridi outswinger in the 42nd over on Wednesday.
“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. 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 in the last 20 overs. We scored around 110 [103 runs in the last 20 overs of the innings, which ended at 48.5 overs]. So it was obviously disappointing for me. But I think the team winning is most important.”
With all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan ruled out of the tournament with a finger injury before the match and opener Tamim Iqbal having gone home with a fractured left hand after the opening game, the onus was largely on Mushfiqur to compensate for a faltering top order that cannot seem to get going after repeated tries.
“This [innings] is definitely top five. We needed one partnership badly at that time,” said Mushfiqur about building a 144-run fourth-wicket partnership with Mohammad Mithun (60 off 84) after Bangladesh were cut down to 12 for three. “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.”