The five captains pose for a photo with the Asia Cup on the eve of the premier cricket championship of this region at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel yesterday. The tournament kicks off at 2pm today with the opening match between holders Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the purpose-built Fatullah Stadium. Photo: Firoz Ahmed
A tournament that causes emotions to run high among Bangladeshi fans gets underway today at the Fatullah Cricket Stadium with the day-night match between defending champions Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The Asia Cup -- the battle for Asian supremacy -- is all set to get the attention it deserves as a high-profile tournament as Bangladesh has proven successful organisers of multi-national tournaments on many occasions, and the success has been fuelled by the passion this country has for the sport.
Cricket in the sub-continent is more than a game and this tournament carries special significance as it finally gets underway after a lot of uncertainty following tumultuous political unrest.
The country may have many socio-economic problems but when it comes to cricket, they rise to the occasion and the next 12 days should be no exception. Afghanistan, the only Associate Member country, have added new flavour to the tournament as everybody will look forward to see how the newcomers grab the opportunity to do battle with giants like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the improving Bangladesh.
Can Pakistan defend their title and continue their good recent showing? Can India, a country which is dictating terms off the field, put some balm on their wounds of a winless trek across South Africa and New Zealand without regular skipper MS Dhoni? Can Sri Lanka capitalise on their long stay in the country to pull off their fifth trophy? These are the questions that will be answered over the next few days in the cricket extravaganza at Fatullah and Mirpur, where the final will take place on March 8.
But for Bangladesh fans the question would be whether their beloved Tigers can repeat the brave heroics of 2012?
The memory of young Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim burying his head in the shoulders of Shakib Al Hasan and breaking down in tears after the heartbreak of losing to Pakistan in the final by just two runs is still fresh in the minds of millions.
The heart-rending scene won the Tigers countless hearts across the cricketing globe and their rabble-rousing performance -- which saw them vanquish World Cup finalists India and Sri Lanka -- ultimately proved to be the start of a new era for Bangladesh cricket.
No one had even thought Bangladesh could pose anyone a challenge in the previous meet and unfortunately the notion remains the same as a struggling Bangladesh enter the tournament without their two stalwarts -- Shakib and Tamim Iqbal.