Melbourne: Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza on Thursday showered accolades on the Indians who thrashed his side by 109 runs here, saying that it would be a challenge for any team to beat the defending champions in the ongoing cricket World Cup.
"India are playing fantastic cricket at the moment and it will be a challenge for any team to beat them. I don't know who will win tomorrow's quarter-final between Pakistan and Australia. But it will be an exciting semi-final and I would like to wish India all the best," Mashrafe said at the post-match media conference after his team's quarterfinal defeat at the MCG.
"Once you've faced a team like India or bigger sides, it is always a challenge, but I think at some stages, we've been very good. Sadly, Suresh (Raina) took the game from us also. I I would also have to say that Rohit was brilliant today," the skipper said graciously.
It was Bangladesh's first quarter-final appearance at the World Cup and Mashrafe had a lot of good words to say about his side for their performance over the last five weeks.
"I think except today, our batsmen have done really well throughout this tournament, which is a much needed boost for us. Hopefully, they'll continue because a very tough year is coming for us. And I think the confidence we got, hopefully it will continue," said Mashrafe.
"We now have two very good young fast bowlers in Taskin and Rubel, who can consistently bowl above 140-145 kmph. This augurs well for Bangladesh cricket as we would play big teams at home in familiar conditions," he said.
On a query about Tamim Iqbal's poor shot selection having got off to a flying start, Mashrafe did well to defend his colleague.
"Well, when you chase 300, someone had to attack. He was fine today, I think. He was very intent on doing well. But unfortunately, he got out again after getting a start. We were not lucky enough at times and also we could never built partnerships," lamented Mashrafe.
Asked if he has put a time-frame on his captaincy, he said, "I don't think in our country captaincy is that big an issue. We have had change of guard from Shakib to Mushfiqur and then to me. I have enjoyed the experience thoroughly and the boys have made me proud with their work ethic."
What was praiseworthy, according to Mashrafe, during this tournament was Bangladesh's ability to perform in Australia, where they never had pleasant memories.
"It was brilliant tournament for us. Obviously the way we played today, it was not great. Since 2008, we have not played any cricket in Australia, so it was a real ask for us. But the way the boys responded to the conditions, I feel very proud as the captain of this team, and hopefully our boys will take it in the next series," he said.
The Bangladesh bowlers did keep Indian batsmen under check till the 35th over and Mashrafe divulged the plan.
"I think our plan was to stop singles. Yes, they can hit three, four or six, but our plan is to stop singles and it was a pretty good one. We are a bit unlucky that we could not get a wicket at that time. If we could get one wicket at that time, it would be much better for us, but the way Rohit and Suresh (Raina) played, it was brilliant. Hopefully, it will carry on for them, and good luck to India," said the captain.
The 31-year-old said that he had feared that Indian batsmen would cut loose after the 35th over and that was precisely what happened.
"Yeah, we always knew that they will come hard at us after 35th over. They have been brilliant in their matches after the 35th over. They take the calculated risks and they have had success. Once again, we could not bowl with our plans, and that was the moment, during bowling time. Raina is always a factor in these situations and today Rohit also batted brilliantly. The hundred was a superb knock."