The Champions Trophy semifinal today takes on special significance as the Bangladesh-India rivalry has now gone beyond the cricket field in recent times. On such occasions, the 2007 World Cup match enters the discussion as under the leadership of Habibul Bashar Bangladesh pulled off a big surprise by beating India. Bashar, currently a national selector, talked to The Daily Star's Bishwajit Roy about his expectations and other issues. Below are the excerpts of the video interview, which you can watch by scanning the QR code provided:
PRESSURE IN THE SEMIFINAL
There is always pressure when you play for Bangladesh, but this time the pressure will be different. We played the Asia Cup final before but it's a different stage from playing a semifinal for the first time in a tournament that is similar to the World Cup. But I believe that our players have learned the craft about how to handle the pressure. I hope they will enjoy the game rather than take the pressure. In a semifinal who can handle the pressure best will be important.
ON TIGERS' CHANCES
If you compare the teams in terms of ability, India must be ahead. Their batting is very strong and have the depth. They also have a very good bowling attack. It is said that India's bowling attack is the best in the tournament and that is true.
But cricket is a game where you cannot always rely on stats. You should understand that Bangladesh have some wonderful players. Tamim Iqbal is one of the world's best players, Shakib [Al Hasan] is the world's best all-rounder, Mahmudullah [Riyad] is one of the world's best players and it's a blessing for any team to get a player like Mushfiqur Rahim. Our captain is bowling well and our bowling department is not bad. Mustafizur [Rahman] may not be at his best but we all know what he can do with the ball.
There is nothing to prove for Bangladesh because we already proved that we can beat any team in the world.
Two wins against India always come to mind… one is when we beat them at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in 2004 -- I think it was the first time -- and then the one in the 2007 World Cup. In 2004 we happened to play well and won, in 2007 we had started to play good cricket. But we were not as confident about winning the game. Now we know we that if we can play to our potential we will win the match and the self-belief is the main difference between now and then.
The team against India will definitely depend on weather conditions. We made a mistake playing against England with a bowler short. But we will prefer attacking cricket against India. We are yet to settle on the number three position but there is hardly any scope to experiment at this moment. Either we go with Sabbir [Rahman] or Imrul Kayes. There is talk about Mahmudullah's promotion to number three position but I don't think it will be wise at this moment.
BEST CASE SCENARIO
If you consider the conditions you should keep 300 in your mind and most importantly we must prepare for any kind of challenge in the semifinal. If you ask me to imagine an ideal scenario for Bangladesh's success then I would prefer Bangladesh restrict India around 270 runs because 300-plus will be a bit difficult if India bat first. And if we bat first we will need to score at least 270 to 280 runs which I think we can defend.
I am seriously hoping Soumya Sarkar will score. We need his contribution and in that case the pressure will be less on Tamim. We recovered brilliantly following a top order collapse against New Zealand but it will not happen everyday. I would like to see that we don't lose a wicket against the new ball. I am confident about Tamim because he has a solid technique and now is in good form. So, if Soumya scores we can get 60-plus runs in the first 10 overs and then reach the 300-mark as our middle order is outstanding.
I don't want to think about the practice match against India. It actually helped us. I can assure you that it will not be like the practice match. The conditions were different in the practice match.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLAYING INDIA THEN AND NOW
One thing is that there was no such pressure when we took on India in our time. Things have changed a lot. But I would like to see the game played only on the field. There has been a lot of talk in social media when we play against India. It's better not to raise too many questions because it somehow creates pressure on the players.
Like many others I also have the expectation that we will play the final. I strongly believe that our cricket will go ahead regardless of a win or loss. It would be however a big gift for the supporters if we can reach final .