Mashrafe Mortaza (third left) of Bangladesh celebrate the wicket of Sri Lankan batsman Dhananjaya de Silva. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza thanked their expat fans for the sensational victory over Sri Lanka in the first match of the Unimoni Asia Cup at the Dubai International stadium on Sunday. “The crowd support from the first ball was good for the team. I think it was a nice way to start the Asia Cup with a win,” he said.

Bangladesh fans waved their flags and danced in joy to the boundaries hit by their star performer Mushfiqur Rahim, who slammed 144 off 150 deliveries to lift his team out of trouble following the fall of early wickets. When Sri Lankan wickets fell in heaps, their shouts reached its crescendo. Mortaza went on to remark that he felt as if his team was playing at his country’s most popular cricket stadium. “I think it was more than Mirpur today. The stadium was full, similar to Mirpur,” said Mortaza.

Mortaza then went on to laud Rahim’s knock that put Bangladesh on the road to victory. “It was one of the best one-day innings for Bangladesh. We were under pressure after we lost two early wickets and Tamim [Iqbal] retired hurt. The way Mushfiqur batted, especially the finish — it was really good. I would like to mention [Mohammad] Mithun as well. He handled the pressure really well,”

Mortaza does not want to rest on his victory and want to go full out to win the Asia Cup. “There’s a lot of things we can improve. Hopefully, we can look after our batting in the coming games. We have to improve a little bit in our bowling as well. The fielding has to be better as well. It’s a great opportunity for our youngsters to establish themselves in the team. Mithun batted well today, so we need another young batsman to step up.”

Mortaza wants players to show the determination and dedication like opener Tamim Iqbal, who came out to bat with fractured wrist. When asked whether it was team’s decision to ask him to go out to bat, he said: “It was Tamim’s decision. One should remember Tamim for this match. Hats off to Tamim for going out to bat at that time. The scan has to be done again in two days. There’s a little fracture for sure, but we have to find out how bad it is. Not having him is a big blow but we have some players in the bank.”

Commenting on his matchwinning knock, Rahim said: “Probably the best I’ve batted because it’s difficult to concentrate with the heat and the running between the wickets as well. I’ve been in good nick, but I haven’t been able to convert my starts into big innings. So that’s paid off now.”