Bangladesh's World T20 opener against Afghanistan was more than just a game. It was a battle of nerves, which the hosts had to overcome in order to avoid an embarrassing exit. That the lead up to this match received almost as much media coverage as that of the country's Upazila elections in the last week, displayed exactly how important this contest was.
While the hosts did go on to achieve their target, the ease with which they romped to a nine-wicket win at Mirpur, however, seemed to be a bit of a positive anticlimax. While not many in the cricketing fraternity predicted a thumping nine-wicket win, player-of-the-match Shakib Al Hasan after the match claimed to have expected nothing less than a one-sided win.
"I think I was more relaxed before this game than any other match previously. I think our whole team knew that we could win and that it would be a one-sided game. I said this before, that if we play to our potential, Afghanistan won't stand a chance against us. It [a loss] can happen once in a while," said Shakib during the post-match press conference.
"I was throwing a banana skin in the bin, I told my teammates that 'if it falls inside, they will score 40 and if it doesn't they will make 80' and they made 72! It just happened," the all-rounder added with a smile.
On a pitch that had turn and bounce, Bangladesh's spinners put the ball in the right areas and ran through the visitors' line-up. It was a kind of wicket which Shakib later claimed would love to play on 'everyday of his life'.
"Yes the wicket helped our bowlers, but it was also important to bowl in the right areas and we did that. It will be good if we can get more wickets like these in the matches," he said.
On a day which saw the hosts effect two run-outs, Bangladesh's fielding played a very important role and it was an aspect that the all-rounder highlighted.
"The two run-outs were vital, both were good batsmen. What happens when the fielding is good -- though we dropped a catch -- it usually lifts the morale of the team, which is important for a T20 game," said Shakib.
Despite feeling 'happy and relieved' to have won the crucial game, Shakib believed that there was no room to take things easy.
"It is very important for the tournament that we qualify for the main round. If the host team is not playing, there will be shortage of crowd. If we win the next two games and qualify, it will be a good tournament overall. So it's important to hold on to the momentum," said Shakib.
With Afghanistan in the bag, the Tigers will now face Hong Kong and Nepal in Chittagong in a bid to confirm their spot in the Super 10s round and Shakib, it seems, has already begun his preparations.
"I don't know about the others, but I have seen some of their matches on Youtube. So I have an idea, plus we will see videos of them. I still think what's more important than analysing them is to think of how we can improve our own game," said Shakib.
That the player was oozing with confidence after the win was perhaps best depicted from his answer to the question regarding the hype created before the game. Shakib jokingly replied, "Yes it was a little too much. Obviously the credit goes to you guys [media]."