• Monday, March 02, 2015

Tigers’ time to kick-start the festival

Bishwajit Roy
The Tigers huddle together at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday, ahead of their make or break opening ICC World Twenty20 match against Afghanistan at the same venue today. Photo: Star
The Tigers huddle together at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday, ahead of their make or break opening ICC World Twenty20 match against Afghanistan at the same venue today. Photo: Star

"We are eagerly waiting for the opening match. We are confident. We will try to make a good start and from there we will hopefully keep the momentum.
I don't think that we are under pressure . You must accept the pressure when you play international cricket. I think the last two years' performances enhanced expectations and Bangladesh earned this honour. But this is the time to perform, not to speak,
and I hope it starts from tomorrow."

Bangladesh Captain


"We are not playing the name, we are playing the game. I don't know who is on the other side, Shakib, Tamim or Mortaza, we just play the game or the situation. Asia Cup was a totally different game. This is 20-20, and Afghanistan is better in T20s. Inshallah we can play well and go to the next round.
There is no pressure on us. All the pressure will be on the Bangladeshi team. They'll be playing in front of their supporters, their own ground and they already lost to us in the Asia Cup once."

Afghanistan Captain


When this reporter boarded a three-wheeler CNG yesterday morning to travel to the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, the first question from the driver was: when will tomorrow's match start? The accreditation card around the neck and the destination was enough for the middle-aged man to guess the occasion. “I will drive for only half the day tomorrow (Sunday). The next few days will be entertaining, wouldn't you say?”
The driver echoed the whole country's sentiment ahead of the country's biggest sporting event -- the fifth edition of the ICC World Twenty20 -- which will start with today's emotion-filled opening match between hosts Bangladesh and potential giant-killers Afghanistan.
As the national anthems of the participating countries were played during the final rehearsal yesterday, it seemed that the whole cricketing world congregated at the home of Bangladesh cricket. But today the loudest noise will be when thousands at the stadium and millions at home put hands on hearts and sing along with the Tigers when the hosts' national anthem plays before the start of the match at 3.30pm at Mirpur.
All roads will lead to the country's premier cricket venue this afternoon where the curtains will be raised on cricket's newest format's largest global competition with a very crucial match, the outcome of which will set the mood of the tournament.
While the first-round matches may be dubbed the battle of the lightweights, today's encounter is extremely crucial as the threat of elimination will hang over the team that loses, and if the hosts come up short it may place a pall over the competition on the first day. Therefore the opener will be an encounter full of emotion and high tension.
It is these very emotions that Mushfiqur Rahim's team will seek to repress and hold their nerves because all other factors, including home advantage, is in their favour as they strive to beat an Associate Member regardless of the fact that they were beaten by the same team in a 50-over match recently.
A win for Bangladesh will not only brush aside recent frustrations but also create huge wave of excitement among the cricket-mad people. On the other side of the coin, a home loss will give Afghanistan the chance to enhance their reputation as a fast-growing side in the limited-overs formats of the game.
But the home side are in good shape to overcome the Afghan threat. The captain has the best players available to him. The return of dashing opener Tamim Iqbal, leading paceman Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and spinner Shohag Gazi from injuries along with the presence of inspirational all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan remains no doubt that Bangladesh can field their best possible team in the all-important game. Furthermore, the success in the two practice games gave them the much-needed confidence to play to their potential, which judging by the respective skills of the sides may be enough for Bangladesh to come through.
There are some pleasant selection dilemmas. The combination that played against Ireland in the last warm-up match is likely to feature in the game, in which case all-rounder Sabbir Hossain will take the place of Mominul Haque. There are also likely to be a few last-minute calls to decide on the personnel to fill the pace-bowling and spin-bowling all-rounders' roles.
A flat and batting-friendly surface is expected but the home team should not dwell on the pitch too much if they are to put an end to their 10-match losing streak in the ICC World Twenty20.

Published: 12:02 am Sunday, March 16, 2014

Last modified: 11:14 pm Sunday, March 16, 2014

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