After helping Bangladesh end years of hurt by finally claiming a T20I victory over India, their first, in New Delhi on Sunday, November 3, Mushfiqur Rahim said that a “nothing to lose” mentality gave the side the freedom to play their best cricket.
Bangladesh went into the first T20I of the three-match series in less-than-ideal circumstances, with Shakib Al Hasan, their captain and best all-rounder, suspended over his failure to report corrupt approaches. There were missing another senior player in Tamim Iqbal, who withdrew from the tour to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.
There was also the weight of history. Bangladesh had lost all eight of their previous T20I clashes with India, including agonising defeats in the 2016 T20 World Cup and in the final of the Nidahas Trophy last year. But on Sunday, they put all that behind them, with Mushfiqur himself scoring decisive 43-ball 60*.
"It was a statement of intent, a counter-thrust after an impressive Bangladesh start, and perhaps also a message to his more established team-mates to get a move on. India’s next generation are making themselves heard."
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) November 4, 2019
“It’s a great moment for Bangladesh cricket because we had not won against them in the T20 format before,” he said. “We were missing a couple of our key players [Shakib and Tamim] in our line-up, but I thought the way the young players have stuck together, and the way our bowlers are bowling, especially against India, it’s outstanding. They set up the game.
“We have come here to compete in each and every game. As long as you are playing consistent cricket and improving in each game … that is our main goal. We had nothing to lose, coming into this game and the whole series. That gives us a great cushion, and the freedom to play to our potential and a fearless brand of cricket.”
Does the victory help exorcise the ghosts of those narrow defeats to India in the past? Mushfiqur infamously celebrated early in 2016, during their World T20 group-stage clash in Bengaluru, when Bangladesh were on top, only for India to strike thrice in the last three balls to complete a stunning heist. Then there was the Nidahas Trophy final in Sri Lanka last year, when a blinder from Dinesh Karthik once again helped India clinch a come-from-behind win off the last ball.
— BCCI (@BCCI) November 3, 2019
Mushfiqur said the important thing was that the team had learnt from those experiences. “It can happen to anyone, and when you have a career of 10-15 years, you can have such matches,” he said. “We’ve also stayed there till the end and closed out games, and so that also adds to the confidence.
“As long as you’re learning from the mistakes, that’s the most important part. After that incident, I’ve been able to close the game on three-four occasions for Bangladesh, in both T20Is and ODIs. That gives me a lot of confidence.”
The second T20I will be played on Thursday, November 7, in Rajkot.