The opening match will be key for Bangladesh in this Asia Cup and it has been made interesting with the budding rivalry between the Tigers and Sri Lanka over several facts, including the incident from the Nidahas Trophy game
Bangladesh team coming into the Asia Cup in the UAE believe the time is just right for the side to take their cricket a step further.
The Tigers have been consistently doing well in the 50-over format of the game and have memories of playing two off the three last Asia Cup finals to boost their confidence. Bangladesh have come to the six-nation tournament for the Asian title backed with recent ODI and T20I series’ wins in the tour of the West Indies.
The side's manager and former Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud said there is still vast difference, comparing Bangladesh to the likes of India or Pakistan. But given the facts and the current shape of the team, there is nothing wrong with Bangladesh eyeing their first major title.
Mahmud also emphasised on the importance of the junior members of the team stepping up to the occasion. The Tigers will take on Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup’s opening game at Dubai International Cricket Stadium Saturday.
"India and Pakistan are big names, especially their experience, cricket structure and everything overall. We are behind them, to be honest. But we have got enough experience and have come up strong as a team now, especially in the ODI format. But for success, we need the juniors in the team to contribute," said Mahmud to the media at the team hotel in Dubai Thursday.
Cricketing giants of Asia are getting ready for the battle of the continental supremacy but not only the opponents they also have to confront another huge obstacle - scorching sun and the infamous Middle Eastern heat.https://t.co/ghsfsGX8xL#BCB #TIGERS #BCBTIGERS #CRICKET #ASIA— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) September 13, 2018
"We saw individual performance at times from Mustafizur (Rahman), (Mehedi Hasan) Miraz but having all of them perform on the same day will help the team big time. They need to understand that Bangladesh can win the tournament under such harsh conditions only if we can play as a team. Only Tamim (Iqbal) or Shakib (al Hasan) performing is not enough for the team to win a match. There is ability in our team. If you see Rubel (Hossain), Mustafizur, they have been playing for some years now. This is time for us to do well. We have come with a good result from the West Indies, winning the ODI and T20I series’," explained Mahmud, who is also an influential BCB director.
On top, there is also the factor of the hunger that the Bangladesh team carry - of not winning a final.
Till date, Bangladesh have lost five finals, with the latest being registered in the Nidahas Trophy T20I in Colombo earlier this year. Bangladesh had stormed into the final of the tri-nation T20I tournament riding on a nail-biting win against host Sri Lanka, only to lose a close game against India in the grand finale.
Bangladesh needed to defend 34 runs in the last 12 balls of the India chase but gave it away to wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik and script yet another heartbreaking defeat in a final.
Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal said the two-run defeat against Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2012 final was the turning point for Bangladesh cricket.
@BCBtigers cricket team manager Khaled Mahmud on @Sah75official, ahead of the Asia Cup. Read more - https://t.co/3LQPVUqA1q#BCBTIGERS #BCB #TIGERS #CRICKET #BANGLADESH #BANGLADESHCRICKET #ASIACUPCRICKET #ASIA #CUP #ASIACRICKET #CUPCRICKET #KHALEDMAHMUD #KHALED #MAHMUD #SHAKIB pic.twitter.com/AqVEXFDM69— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) September 13, 2018
The left-handed batsman clarified that it depends on individuals as many will see that final in 2012 as a heart-breaking point for the country's cricket, but for Tamim it altered their mindset and inserted the belief that they can win against any opponent.
"The 2012 Asia Cup was the first major tournament where we played competitive cricket for the first time. It was the take-off point, rather than the 2015 World Cup. The 2012 Asia Cup gave us the belief that we can do well against top sides. I always remember the four fifties and losing in the final by two runs, and how we played as a team. We beat India and Sri Lanka, and lost two very competitive matches against Pakistan. It was a special tournament for me," the southpaw explained.
"We took a step in 2012 but we lost our way. The year 2014 was quite bad. It was disappointing. But after the step we took in 2015, we are still progressing. We haven't gone backward," he added.
The opening match will be key for Bangladesh in this Asia Cup and it has been made interesting with the budding rivalry between the Tigers and Sri Lanka over several facts, including the incident from the Nidahas Trophy game.
"Every team should have one or two rivalries. I don't think neither of us have the Nidahas Trophy incident in mind. Regardless of the history, both sides know how important [Saturday's] game is, to kick off the tournament," said Bangladesh’s premier batsman.
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