Mashrafe Mortaza starts mind games ahead of the semi-final

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Mashrafe Mortaza starts mind games ahead of the semi-final

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SportsCafe Desk

06/15/2017

Bangladesh have defied expectations to make the semi-finals of an ICC event for the very first time. Ahead of today's clash against India, Mashrafe Mortaza has initiated the mind games saying that India will be under more pressure due to the passionate following of the sport in their country.

In the group stages of the Champions Trophy, Bangladesh stunned New Zealand and entered the semi-final of an ICC tournament for the first time. And although Bangladesh skipper Mortaza acknowledged that his side are under a little bit of pressure going into the big game against India, it is comparatively much lesser than their opponents. 

"Yes, we are playing in the semi-final and it is a pressure game. But if we are under pressure then I think India are under more pressure compared to us because of their huge population and the love for the game among common public," Mortaza said at the pre-match press conference, as quoted by Firstpost.

"Both teams face pressure of expectations. But at the end of the day, it's a game of cricket, so whoever plays well, they will win. I just told the players if you take it as 'the semi-final', the pressure will be going very hard, but if you think it's just another match the pressure will ease off," he said.

Bangladesh have been on a resurgent run ever since reaching the quarter-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, where they lost to India. After that, today's Champions Trophy semi-final against India is being promoted as the Bangladesh’s biggest match in the history. But Mortaza played down the claim saying, "I have been answering that question since 2015 World Cup. Obviously, there is a big hype. Being among top-eight and in the semi-final is big thing. But I am not sure if this is the biggest match or not."

In the recent past, Bangladesh came across as a side, who can not only challenge higher ranked sides but also upset them on their day. And speaking of his side's evolution the Tigers' skipper identified the moments that acted as the catalyst for the ongoing resurgence. "Beating England in 2015 World Cup and then giving New Zealand a tough fight were the high points. Then we beat Pakistan, India and South Africa at home. In last two years, we have managed to play with some sort of freedom. That is as much as you can do in the middle. Players feeling more secured about their places in the side. These things do help."

India and Bangladesh are familiar foes having played each other on numerous occasions. The two sides also played out a thrilling ICC World T20 match in Bangalore last year wherein India beat the visitors by 1 run. Following that result, today's encounter has been billed as a grudge match for Bangladesh, but the 33-year-old played down the notion saying, "Not necessarily (that it has to be a grudge match). I know it could have been any opposition. So I don't have to think that since it's India, it's a grudge match. We will play just another match. Hopefully if we can soak in the pressure and play good cricket".

Finally, just like Indian captain Virat Kohli did, Mortaza also emphasised that today will be a new match for both teams, despite their cricketing history. "After World Cup 2015, we have played, I think -- two T20s and three ODIs. We have obviously forgotten it. It has been 24 months and exactly like what Virat had said, tomorrow is going to be a new match."

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