Bangladesh's Asia Cup started in the best possible fashion on Saturday, riding on Mushfiqur Rahim's brilliance and Tamim Iqbal's heroism to register a rousing 137-run win over Sri Lanka. As that euphoria -- it was not just the margin of victory but the character shown in order to recover from a precarious situation -- may now be dissipating as the Bangladesh camp ponder the enormity of the challenge in front of them.
Tamim Iqbal, the opener who lit the spark for so many wins in the past, is out of the tournament and now in Dhaka nursing a fractured left hand suffered during the opener. Mushfiqur, who hit a career-best 144 on Saturday, is struggling with a rib injury. Even their likely finish as group champions may count against Bangladesh as that would mean playing three matches in four days starting with their last group encounter against Afghanistan, who knocked Sri Lanka out of the event on Monday. In heat they have never before experienced as a team before this tournament, those combined factors spell a warning for Bangladesh and the Tigers may heed it, with optimistic new coach Steve Rhodes seeing it as an opportunity instead of a setback.
"We haven't sat down to finalise things for Afghanistan. It's quite a hectic schedule, there is a lot of cricket to play in a very short space of time in very tough conditions," said Rhodes at the team hotel yesterday when asked whether he was mulling any changes for the Afghanistan game, which has become an academic affair with Sri Lanka's unexpected exit. "So that might be necessary but the bottom line is that every single one of those games in ODIs is important and we want to win.
"But that might mean winning with different players as well. Bringing players in, resting an odd player here and there. It would be great exposure for the other guys and that what we will try to do. Bringing an odd player here and there but most of all we want to win."
One of the changes mulled is resting Mushfiqur for the Afghanistan game and giving him time to recover for the next day's match. Mominul Haque, included in the squad for just such an eventuality, may be in line to replace someone in the top order. It is also likely that the uncapped Nazmul Hassan Shanto will come in for Tamim.
"We have two batsman in reserve and Ariful [Haque] as well, who bats too. So we are in a good position," Rhodes said. "We have the likes of Mominul and we've got Shanto who could fill the shoes of Tamim there. Big shoes to fill but good prospects both of them.
"I won't ask them to bat like he bats [Tamim] I'll ask them to bat the way they bat, whether it's Shanto or Mini [Mominul]. It's great to get off to a good start but what's more important is that middle period, if you lose wickets in that period then it really does hurt. For them to get the target they aimed for [on Saturday] was really a freakish and fantastic innings from Mushy," added Rhodes.