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Mashrafe Mortaza

'Just another big tournament' – Mortaza wary of 'extra pressure' at World Cup

Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh captain, said he wouldn't concentrate on personal milestones to avoid "any extra pressure" at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, but believes his team can do "something extraordinary".

The 35-year-old confirmed the 2019 World Cup would be his last, but that doesn't mean he will attach more weight to the tournament and heap pressure on himself. Instead, he will consider it as "just another big tournament". 

"This is definitely my last World Cup," he said on Monday, 29 April. "I have to perform as a player, and of course, my role as captain is going to be important too. I have to fulfill my duties, but there's nothing more I can do. I don't have any personal goals. I never want to take any extra pressure.

"I am a believer in luck, so what is meant to happen, will happen. It's also not that I will do any extra preparation. It's just another big tournament for us and we want to play well to make it memorable. Nothing is impossible, but it will be very important for us to handle the ups and downs."

Mushfiqur Rahim, the wicket-keeper batsman, recently said this Bangladesh squad was the best they have sent to a World Cup. Mortaza remains wary of such claims, though, and pointed out that their squads that contested the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 and Asia Cup 2018 were similar. 

"It's the same team apart from one or two players, which has been playing together for the last two-three years but we don't have any trophy to show even though we played some finals," he said.

"The team didn't do anything so significant in the meantime that they should have been termed as the best team. This kind of tag creates unnecessary pressure on the players. I don't want to say it's the best team but yes, we are going to play the World Cup with our best available team. That's it."

The World Cup, beginning on 30 May, will involve each team playing the other nine participants in a robin-round format, with the top four sides qualifying for the semi-finals. Squad depth, therefore, is likely to be key.

"No doubt this World Cup is going to be tougher for us because of the format," said Mortaza. "But I still believe we are capable of doing something extraordinary. Just we need to start the tournament on a good note. We need to take it match by match rather than thinking too far."

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