By Hugh Lawson
LONDON (Reuters) – Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza singled out batsman Shakib Al Hasan for praise after the side’s final match at the Cricket World Cup on Friday, a 94-run loss to Pakistan at Lord’s.
The swashbuckling Shakib smashed 64 runs as his side stumbled to 221 all out. That took his World Cup tally to a tournament-topping 606 runs – 62 more than second-placed Rohit Sharma of India who has played one fewer innings.
“I think he’s been absolutely beautiful. He had done what he could do. I really feel sorry for him, not only the whole team,” Mashrafe told reporters.
“The way he played, this team could have been in a different zone than where we are standing right now. I think his is one of the best performances of all time that has been done in the World Cup.”
What Shakib lacked during the tournament, however, was solid partnerships to help the side build defendable scores and chase down sizeable targets.
Mashrafe put it succinctly.
“The rest of the boys is in and out,” he said. “Hopefully, the boys will step up next time with him.”
He said his side, who with the exception of Afghanistan were seen as the weakest in the competition, had enjoyed and learned a lot from the tournament in which they won three games.
“Obviously, it’s been very exciting. To know our strengths, to know our weaknesses, and how can we improve our game going forward – it’s really a very exciting tournament,” Mashrafe said.
He also praised the team for arguably their best performance, chasing down a target of 322 to beat West Indies in Taunton.
“I think batting is something we can take positive things from. It has really helped (for the) future to understand that we can score now 300 or even when asked sometimes more, we can run for it,” he said.
Mashrafe also defended the format of the competition, with all teams playing each other in a long round-robin series of games before the top four progress to the semi-finals.
“I think that format I loved because every team has been exposed with other teams,” he said.
(Reporting by Hugh Lawson, editing by Ed Osmond)