Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim (L) will be banking a lot on the youngsters like Mominul Haque (R) if they are to get a result against India in their first match of the Asia Cup at the Fatullah Stadium today. PHOTO: firoz ahmed
It is not that Bangladesh boast a very good record against neighbours India in one-day cricket since their rivalry started in the 1998 Asia Cup. Yet if someone these days calls a Bangladeshi victory over these opponents as an upset, it hurts the Tigers, especially when it comes to the 50-overs competition -- the format the Tigers excelled considerably.
Experienced campaigner Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who has sweet memories of contributing notably in his side's all three wins in 24 previous meetings against India, was as calm as ever at the pre-match press conference and responding quietly on questions of his team's chances against the wounded Indians in their first match of the Asia Cup today at the Fatullah Cricket Stadium.
But a question from an Indian journalist hurt his ego and he said: "Actually I don't consider beating India as an upset as we have beaten them before."
It's not only an emotional statement from the "Narail Express" as there is logic in his claims when the Tigers are playing in their home condition. True that Bangladesh had often pulled off upsets in one-day internationals, but over the last couple of years they made such a strong stride that can be called a competitive team if not a 'dangerous' side. They have learnt the craft of this format much better than the remaining two.
Their performance in the last edition including a great win against these opponents which cancelled out Sachin Tendulkar's memorable 100th century in that match is part of the history.
So, there is a lot for the Tigers to take inspirations from before the battle against Virat Kohli's side but what happened in the past is written only in the record books. One will have to look at the present to keep the momentum going. And Mashrafe also didn't find any reason to cling on to history only.
Playing without superstar like Shakib Al Hasan and last tournament's hero Tamim Iqbal is not an ideal situation for the home side. The absence of banned Shakib means the team think-tank will have to consider two players in place of one, but then again they can take inspiration from the past as they had played good cricket without the two stalwarts. Bangladesh enter the tournament on the back of a forlorn series against Sri Lanka and again Bangladesh have the habit of making a comeback when their backs are against the wall.
But for that, as Mashrafe said, the young guys should take responsibly to cement the team's claim as a good one-day unit.
Win always works like a tonic and all the gloom will be lifted if Mushfiqur Rahim's side can pull off a victory in the first game.
But the task is not at all an easy one for the hosts and Mashrafe warned if the conditions suited batting like the one in the last game at this venue against New Zealand where Bangladesh won by four wickets, things would be very difficult considering the strength of India's batting despite the absence of MS Dhoni.
"If it's the way how it was against the Kiwis it will be difficult for us. A total of 300 is okay, but anything above it will be difficult. Chasing 300 and 350 is different. Against New Zealand, the pitch didn't help bowlers. But if it's a bit slow now, it will be good," observed Mashrafe adding that he was not sure about the dew factor.
Miracles still happen, but Bangladesh must rely on and bring out their best abilities to bring back those sweet memories of 2012 Asia Cup.
The good times and the bad times both go away and both of today's opponents will want to see their bad times pass by.