By Amlan Chakraborty
NEWDELHI (Reuters) – Bangladesh’s muted celebrations after humbling India in Sunday’s Twenty20 series opener did not quite reflect the sense of relief they were feeling but Mushfiqur Rahim says the side are smiling again after enduring a tumultuous few weeks.
Bangladesh cricket was plunged into a state of turmoil last month when the players went on strike on the eve of their India tour. The strike was called off after the board accepted most of their demands, including a pay hike.
A fresh crisis then erupted when talismanic all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was banned for two years, with one year of that suspended, for having breached the International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption code by not reporting approaches to engage in corrupt conduct.
Despite missing Shakib and senior batsman Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh beat India by seven wickets in New Delhi to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
“The last two to three weeks has been the toughest situation that I have faced in my 15-year cricketing career,” Mushfiqur, Man of the Match after an unbeaten 60, told reporters.
“Before leaving Bangladesh, I told the media there that the only way we can set things right would be if we can win a couple of matches in India, or play well enough to bring back smiles and calmness to the team and the nation.
“That’s what we have done and hopefully we can continue this form.”
Asked about the subdued celebrations, Mushfiqur said, “We still have two more matches to go, we haven’t won the series yet. We’ll try to win at least one more and then you’d see a bigger celebration.
“There are areas where we can do better, like bowling the last two overs. If we can address those areas, nothing is impossible,” said the chirpy stumper-batsman.
Bangladesh went into the match seeking their first Twenty20 win against their mighty neighbours in nine attempts and are now one win away from a series victory.
Mushfiqur credited coach Russell Domingo for creating a healthy dressing room environment which he said would boost the growth of the young players.
“The situation we faced in the last three weeks, to recover from that, … giving the youngsters the freedom and confidence that whether you bleed runs or get out for a duck, you are still an important member of this team.
“We’re trying to create a healthy culture. It took me 15 years to reach where I am now but with their potentials, these young players can be there in 8-10 years. They are very talented and grabbing their opportunities.”
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford)