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July 4, 2019

Steve Rhodes

London, England, UK

Q. Coach, I'm sure you guys would like to win this game and make it at least four wins out of eight matches that you've played. How do you -- going into this game, how do you see this game? What are the areas you want to improve upon?
STEVE RHODES: Firstly, Bangladesh versus Pakistan at Lord's, the beautiful Lord's, there's no such thing as a dead rubber. Both teams desperate to beat each other. We certainly are. I'm pretty sure they are. They've got a lot to play for as well.

So, no, we're looking to obviously win. We want to win. We've practiced well today. We've come up with some good plans. When we lost against India, it wasn't a case of -- it was we were out of the tournament, but we all recognise that there's one more game to go and one special occasion at Lord's and a very good, tough team to beat as well. So if we can take the scalp of Pakistan in the World Cup, we'll be very, very proud of the boys.

Q. I don't know if you've seen all the calculations out there saying that, obviously, Pakistan would have to have a massive, massive victory to be able to jump over New Zealand, and also they would have to bat first, I think it is, as well. If you win the toss, is there any sort of calculation there of what you could do, or is it purely based on the result of the game tomorrow?
STEVE RHODES: Great question. Thank you very much for asking it. The reason I say that is I don't like to give away too much tactically going into a game because I get a lot of my information listening to head coaches on the media from the opposition. So I don't like to give away too much. I won't be telling you what we're going to do at the toss or how we approach the game.

All I will be saying is there's a game to win for Bangladesh, and that's the important thing for us.

Q. Perhaps Bangladesh team is out of the tournament so far, but you watched one match, England-India, and now Pakistan versus Bangladesh. What are your comments?
STEVE RHODES: Sorry, can you repeat the question? You were asking me?

Q. This is my question. Will you go all out for this match?

Q. Because you're out of the tournament.
STEVE RHODES: I respect that.

Q. But one moment where England seems to be out of the tournament, you have a good opportunity by India. So at that point, when Pakistan seems to go to the semi, what do you say about your match? Will you go all out?
STEVE RHODES: Oh, yeah. I think it's the only way that I know how to play the game of cricket, which is to win. I certainly know that the players will be desperate to win, and there will be no such thing of taking it easy. This is an international match, an ODI, a World Cup game against great opposition, and Bangladesh will be doing their very, very best to win the game.

Q. Coach, Mashrafe Mortaza say definitely this is going to be his last World Cup. Tomorrow is going to be his final game in the World Cup, and given the situation in this World Cup, he might never get any other one day. So how are emotions running in the team and how is this match important for the team?
STEVE RHODES: The one thing about Mashrafe with the players is that they respect him incredibly. I often use the word warrior, but he goes to war for the team, does Mashrafe, and people respect that, understand that, and they love him because of that. The players in the dressing room do love Mash, and this is -- he has said it's his last World Cup, and it will be emotional for him.

My job is to, yes, let's get that done. Let's understand and respect Mash's situation regarding his last game in World Cup but then concentrate on the cricket. Hopefully, the boys will give him the right sort of respect playing his last game in the World Cup, but then most importantly, we'll concentrate on the match.

Q. What's the status of Mushfiqur's injury, and fielding is a part of Bangladesh's sad story in this World Cup. Going out home, what are you thinking about the next match, about the fielding?
STEVE RHODES: First question was Mushi got a little knock on the elbow in the nets, you might have seen. I've had no chance to see the physio yet. Generally, that sort of area, most people are okay. I don't remember too many people breaking elbows off four rounds of the bottom hand. So I'm hoping that he'll be okay, but I'll find out more and let you know as soon as I can.

Your next question was about fielding. We know that in Bangladesh the fielding side is not as good as Australia, as England, as New Zealand. We know we're going to have some not so good days, and then when we do have a good day, it really does help the win, or the performance of the team. We do try hard. We do work hard. We're possibly not as athletic as some of the other teams, but it's not an area we neglect. It's an area we still work very, very hard on.

But we also know we have good skills with bat and ball, and it's a very delicate balance, which is enhancing those skills even more and making it a difficult side to bowl at and a difficult side, when we bowl, to bat against. So the balance is trying to improve everything, and fielding comes into that. Presently as well, we can really, really improve our batting and bowling skills as well as our fielding.

Q. Coach, Lord's is always very special for all the players. How exciting the players are once they got into the dressing room, especially the younger players who might come to Lord's again with a bigger dream?
STEVE RHODES: Yeah, they really enjoyed the walk from the coach through the gates, the great gates. As soon as they got in the pavilion, you could see them looking at the paintings along the walls of the staircase, and then heading into the changing rooms and looking at the boards with five wicket hauls and test match 100s. A few of them straight out onto the balcony and looking at the marvelous scene in front of them with a beautiful carpet of grass and big stands everywhere, and they were taking it all in.

That's what you need to do at Lord's. You need to not let it overpower you, but take it all in because it's one of the best places to play cricket.

They probably thought that was it, and then as soon as they walked through the long room, there was more to see in the walk down to the ground. Hopefully, they'll have happy memories tomorrow. Nobody likes losing, so your memories, often if you lose, you're hopeful that you can try and forget them. Certainly, playing at Lord's really is something you should never forget as a person. It's a real privilege to play.

Q. Coach, obviously, it's a dead rubber match but also a prestigious match for Bangladesh. Which area you should concern to improve before this match?
STEVE RHODES: So, again, I think that what we look at, where we do take games a day at a time, match by match, but the thing is, if you look back to that India game, we didn't turn up for those first 20 overs when we were in the field. That was a bad area for Bangladesh. We know that. We've addressed that. We know what we want to try and do tomorrow. If we can start the game well against Pakistan, then we don't have to play catch-up, and that's what we did against India.

So really we want to try and improve that. There are some other aspects of our game we want to just obviously sustain and try and do what we did against India, which was fight hard, and we played well at times with a bat during that game as well.

But that's the main area. We want to start the game really, really well.

Q. In the last game, Shakib bowled from the end where they had the shorter boundary, and he bowled beautifully 41-1, 10 overs. Tell us a bit about what it's been to deal with Shakib in this World Cup. He scored in almost every game. He scored runs, 542 runs. He's taken a lot of wickets. He's been the best performer in this World Cup so far. As a coach, how has it been working with him in this World Cup?
STEVE RHODES: I love working with Shakib Al Hasan. He's an amazing person, an amazing player. He takes no motivation from me. All credit to Shakib Al Hasan. It's all internal. This was all done by Shakib. He was desperate to do well in this World Cup.

Sometimes as a player, when you do well and get some runs, you almost think, well, I'm not going to get some the next game, which is not the attitude. There's no reason why you can't get the runs in the next game. That's what he does. He's churned them out every single match. I think his low score was 40, which is an amazing effort. But added to that, he's done his bowling as well. He's bowled beautifully at times for us.

He's an amazing character. I love working with Shakib. I have good communication with Shakib, but there's not a lot I do except be there for him in case he needs somebody to bounce some ideas off.

Often it's me doing that to him. I'm the one going to him, I've got this dilemma. What do you reckon? Why wouldn't you do that with one of the most talented, gifted, and clever brands and a guy who's played a hell of a lot of cricket internationally?

Q. Pakistan team is almost out of the semifinal race. Is it quite a relief for you, or do you feel some pressure still?
STEVE RHODES: No, I don't really feel the pressures of that because, you know, with Bangladesh, we've got the pressure of 170 million back home wanting us to win, but without the tournament, Pakistan can still qualify. Maybe the pressure is all on Pakistan going into this game.

Q. Hello, Coach. Abu Jayed Rahi is the only player Bangladesh squad didn't play the last seven games. Tomorrow is Bangladesh's last game. Is there any chances to play him? And second question is what do you think about the combination against Pakistan?
STEVE RHODES: The second one is a tactical one, so I won't answer that question regarding how we're going to play against Pakistan.

The first question about Rahi, what a great lad he is. He's been in the nets, in practice. He's been so professional. He's tried so hard. He's been great practice for our batsmen. He's running hard every single time, and he looks like he's not going to get a game of cricket in the World Cup.

But what I will say about the guy is that, if he keeps doing those things, then games will happen for him. Appearances will happen, and probably success as well because of his terrific attitude. But I think importantly, we're playing international cricket here. We're not going to give somebody a game because he hasn't had a game. You warrant your place in your side, and Rahi knows that. But certainly his efforts and his professionalism have been excellent, and if he keeps doing that, he'll get chances.

Q. Coach, three wins and one washed out game out of eight. Bangladesh did not qualify for the semifinal. This is probably the best team Bangladesh have. So how are you going to rate Bangladesh campaign so far? Is it successful or failure?
STEVE RHODES: We would have loved to have qualified for the later stages. In that case, that's a disappointment. But the victories have been very good. Certainly, the early victory with South Africa, West Indies. But actually, the Afghan game, we've had a tricky side for Bangladesh. Notoriously, they play well against us. A professional performance against them we needed, and we got. So that was a really good victory.

It would have been great to beat Sri Lanka. I'm sure they would have felt the same way of trying to beat us, but it wasn't to be. We can't do anything about that.

If we beat Pakistan, I think we've had a very good World Cup, even though we've not qualified. And I say that because the other teams, some of the big teams that we've played against, we've had close-ish games against them. We've pushed them. Australia we pushed. India we pushed. We had a not great game against England, apart from the magnificent 100 from Shakib. But generally the games we've played, we've been in the contest, and we've showed a lot of fight. We carry on doing that, then we're going to improve and improve and improve.

Yes, you comment about the best team to represent Bangladesh at the moment. Is there more to come?

Q. Coach, a lot of talk about Mashrafe's retirement in the last few days we have here. Does it affect your team? And how are you hopeful to get him in the Sri Lankan Tour?
STEVE RHODES: First of all, the first question. I'll get you to repeat the second one in a minute. But your first question, if it affects the team, no. The team are now used to a huge press following, lots of media hype, social media. They're used to headlines now, the team. So that's not really going to affect them too much.

Mashrafe will decide himself with the board, and I think that's -- everybody ought to leave that up to them, and I think whilst it's a great story for the media, let's pay a little respect and let him organise whether he does or he doesn't.

Your second question was?

Q. How hopeful are you of getting him in the Sri Lanka Tour?
STEVE RHODES: Oh, the Sri Lanka Tour. Yeah, I mean, he's our leader. If he's on that plane to Sri Lanka, fine. If he's decided else different, then fine, we move on. That actually is life. If he's with us, great, let's take that into consideration and win the games in Sri Lanka. If he's not with us, let's move on.

Q. Coach, just sticking from there, you spoke about that he's a leader, Mashrafe, but like this particular World Cup, for that, every World Cup we see that some legends go out, like the senior players and everything. So as Bangladesh is concerned, how is the second lot coming up? Even if Mashrafe doesn't continue at the World Cup, even if he doesn't, how do you see the next line of people coming up? What are your thoughts on that?
STEVE RHODES: I think that's one of the areas that we're getting a little bit better at. We've seen some good performances from Liton Das in this tournament. Soumya Sarkar has been consistent without a big score, but he's shown what he can do leading up to this tournament. Mosaddek in Ireland and also in this tournament has been successful. Mehedi Hasan has also been consistent from Ireland to the World Cup. Mustafizur never really gets a mention, but he's played 60-odd ODIs, and took a great fight against India, and I'm very proud of that.

We've had great contributions, and long may it continue. That is one area that we're now showing signs. I call them our medium sort of players, but it won't take them long. They'll become the main sort of players, but I think the most important player is the team, the team doing well.

Can I just go back for that? It's important that I do because I know you'll pick up headlines out of it. What I said with Mashrafe, if he's not in Sri Lanka, then we move on. We have to move on, I want to explain that. Bangladesh has to move on eventually without Mash, and whether it's after this tournament or whether it's in a year's time, at some stage Bangladesh has to move on, like all the great countries in international cricket, and we have to do without. It's not always easy. It can be a difficult void to fill, but that's what I was meaning when I said we move on.

Hopefully, you'll put that and not the other headline.

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