The beginning could be the end for Bangladesh in the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 when they tackle Afghanistan in the opening match of the competition on March 16 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
Smarting under their recent defeat to the war-torn nation in the Asia Cup, the Tigers just can't afford to lose the match; otherwise doom will not be far from the hosts.
Leading Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan however disparaged all the talks about the Afghan challenge in the qualifying round.
"I don't think there is any logic to think too much of Afghanistan. The main thing is how much we can improve ourselves. I think we have a very good team to beat any big opposition if we can play our best cricket. So our main focus should be on how we can perform better," said a confident Shakib while talking to reporters at an open media session at a city hotel yesterday.
"Once you are afraid you are afraid of any team, even you will fear Hong Kong or Nepal. We don't know what they [Hong Kong and Nepal] are capable of. One extraordinary performance can change a match's fate. Say we scored 160 runs and then one opponent batsman scores a hundred, what happens then? T20 is like that. That's why you should fear everybody if you want to. Once again, I believe we should focus on what we can do best," he added.
And then the inspirational all-rounder requested home fans to support them without any expectations. "End of the day it's a match where one team will win. True one gets hurt as a supporter for losing the match, but I request everybody to take everything sportingly."
Yet during the conversation, probably the most experienced T20 player in the side considering his global exposure, Shakib once again portrayed his usual "carefree" attitude by saying that he was not thinking about anything. And that's why he found no reason to think what happened in the just concluded Asia Cup, including the shocking defeat against Afghanistan.
Though many are of the opinion that this format of the game also deserves a proper planning and calculation and day by day the gap between the top and lower-ranked teams is increasing, Shakib believed anybody can win a T20 match, so nobody is favourite in this shortest format and one can only be judged as favourites by their previous stats.
"Anything can happen in T20 game. To us Nepal is a big side and on the other hand we too are a big team against Pakistan, India or Australia. T20 is a game of two overs, few balls, even an over and a ball can change the match, so there is no favourite," opined the all-rounder.
But he had one point to address to his teammates to succeed in this format. "One should keep his cool in this format because everybody gets excited in T20 cricket and it happens in short duration game. You find it in football, so it is important for me how we can keep our head," suggested Shakib, echoing his captain's sentiment that their first target was to qualify for the main round.