Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza rued his team’s inability to capitalise on a good start but at praised his team’s performance after pushing India to the brink in the final of the Asia Cup.

Opting to bat, a depleted Bangladesh (without Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan) got off to a great start as Liton Das and Mehidy Hasan stitched a 120-run stand for the opening wicket before losing their plot to be restricted to a modest 222.

Bangladesh bowlers, however, made a match of the low total before India sneaked home with a nervy three-wicket win in a last-ball thriller. “Our boys should feel proud. I think we have to learn so many things. Every time we play a tournament like this, we are struggling somewhere or the other. Today we made a good start but couldn’t go through. We had it under control, but we couldn’t capitalise,” Mortaza said after the game.

Mortaza praised his bowling department but said the script could have been different had the spinners bowled well in the middle overs. “In the last few matches, we lost early wickets but managed to score 240-250. I think the bowlers did a good job in the tournament. We are proud but we have to move forward. Not having Shakib (Al Hasan) and Tamim (Iqbal) was a big blow, but I think boys have done a really good job,” he said.

“If our off-spinners bowled well, the scenario would have been so different.” Mortaza said.

He, however, refused to blame his bowlers after his batsmen squandered a great opportunity to put up a big score. “(But) You would always back the spinners when you see the ball turning in the first innings. Mehidy has bowled well throughout the tournament. Mahmudullah was good in the last game.”

“We needed to get 10 overs from them, but we were struggling to do that. Apu (Nazmul Islam) could have bowled better. But you cannot blame the bowlers when the target is 223. I think all of you thought in the half-time that we won’t be winning,” Mortaza said.

‘It wasn’t ideal situation’

The skipper said he would have ideally wanted one of the pacers – Rubel Hossain or Mustafizur Rahman – to bowl at the death but said situation didn’t permit him to do so. “Mustafiz (Rahman) and Rubel (Hossain) bowled so well that if we could have given them the ball from the 46th over, I think even 25 runs could have been defended. But it wasn’t ideal situation,” he said.

“I told (Mahmudullah) Riyadh that the only chance we will have is when they mis-hit one. We wanted Kuldeep (Yadav) to mis-hit one, because (Kedar) Jadhav is a recognised batsman. He would have better calculations. The inside edge off the fifth ball could have gone to the stumps. Actually, you need luck in these situations.”

The skipper said Bangladesh were 30-40 runs short of what could have been a winning score. “To be honest, we wanted a partnership when (Mahmudullah) Riyad and Mushfiq (Mushfiqur Rahim) were batting. We were 120 in the 21st over. If we had scored low-risk cricket for the next 14-15 overs, we could have added 60-70 runs for the loss of one wicket,” Mortaza said.

“Mushfiq couldn’t execute well. The run-outs also hurt. Intent doesn’t mean getting out playing big shots. You have to look after the batting after the good start. We should have scored 250-260 on this wicket.”

(With inputs from PTI)