India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his team was “hurt” by the morale-shattering 79-run loss to Bangladesh but credited rivals pacers for extracting good bounce and variations on a slow wicket during the first one-day international in Mirpur.
Bangladesh produced some fantastic batting to score their highest total against India in ODIs — 307 all out in 49.4 overs — and then bundled them out for 228 with four overs to spare to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series.
Asked if the loss dent the morale of the much-fancied Indian side, Dhoni said: “It does hurt. But it’s not about what you have done in the past. On that particular day, how well you have played predicts the team that wins and today (Thursday) they played much better cricket than we did.”
Addressing the post-match press conference last night, Dhoni said: “I think the variations that they used were pretty impressive. They didn’t bowl 140 kph and a slower one of 115 kph. They mixed up the pace well and also they had more bowlers who got more bounce compared to our fast bowlers.
“Bounce, at times on slow wicket, is a harder thing to negotiate because it climbs onto you and still you don’t have enough pace to work around.
“I felt they used the variations well. And still they knew what was the exact length that was needed to bowl and I felt that was the difference between the fast bowling units,” he added.
Rohit Sharma (63) and Shikhar Dhawan (30) shared 95 runs for the opening partnership to give India a good start but they suffered a mini-collapse, losing four wickets for 20 runs, and could not recover there after.
“Whenever you are chasing 300, the key is partnerships. The bigger the partnerships, the easier it becomes for the middle order, the lower-order batsmen to score the remaining number of runs,” Dhoni said.
“I felt we kept losing wickets in the middle. We were not able to get big partnerships which I feel is crucial when you’re looking to chase 300 or 305. Especially on wickets that turn out to be on the slower side because at times you have to take those calculated risk shots which I feel is important.”
Bangladesh picked four fast bowlers, including debutant Mustafizur Rahman — who returned with a five-wicket haul — in their playing XI.
Dhoni said: “If you see the past year, you will see the fast bowlers are the ones that are doing really well.
“They are supported by Shakib who is their leading left-arm spinner and they have also got part-timers who can bowl off-spin if needed.
“Mahmudullah is injured right now. He is not part of the side, so it gives them that liberty of using the fast bowlers and quite a few of them can bat. So still they have a decent batting line-up. You have to see all these factors and I feel that was one of the main reasons you see them featuring more seamers in the coming games,” he added.
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza said his decision to include Mustafizur in the team was a bold one and he is happy that the move paid off.
“We’ve been playing with three pacers since I became captain. Because I believe it is the bowlers who win matches. (Arafat) Sunny had been bowling very well. It was difficult to leave him out. But we thought it is important to play Mustafiz. It was difficult to ignore him after seeing him bowling in the nets and use his variations,” he said.
“We thought, he would be brand new to them. They must have thought I would open the bowling but we wanted to change things a bit.
“Keeping him away from the XI would have done the team harm. Some of his cutters are unplayable as it turns more than spinners. You could see that their bats were turning in their hands, as they top-edged those catches. I was fully confident that he could do the job for us.”
It was the opening stand of 102 off 82 balls between Soumya Sarkar and Tamim Iqbal that set the tone, while Shakib Al Hasan and Sabbir Rahman added another 83 in 86 balls to help Bangladesh post 307.
Mortaza said he was delighted with the overall performance of his team.
“Definitely delighted with team’s performance. You can’t ask for more than that. The way the boys are playing, I am extremely happy with their performance,” Mortaza said. “It was a brilliant start from Tamim and Soumya, that set the tone for us. We lost the momentum due to rain in the middle but Shakib (Al Hasan) and Sabbir Rahman did it for us.
“The fast bowlers delivered and I am really happy with the boys. Maybe, we were 20-30 short, but 300 is always a tough ask. I just asked the bowlers to bowl in the right areas and they did it,” he said.
Mortaza said his bowlers were prepared to fight till the end.
“India started off very well but on this wicket you can give away 65-70 runs in the first ten overs. We made about 79 in the first ten overs too,” Mashrafe said.
“Our bowlers weren’t puzzled when they got off to such a start. Everyone was prepared to fight till the last ball. Partnerships can happen but the boys gave a big effort today (Thursday).”
Their 79-run win was a sweet revenge for Bangladesh who had lost to India by 109 runs at the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Melbourne.
However Mortaza said: “I think revenge shouldn’t exist in sports. We are all humans with families. We all play cricket. The question of revenge can’t be considered here.
“What I think is we definitely fight for victory on the field. But that is all I want. Many things may happen during a match but we go to the same hotel together after a match and hang out there.”