Tigers banking on hard-won confidence
With injury concerns looming over Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, arguably two of the most important seniors of the side, Bangladesh's batting department will bank on another experienced campaigners in Mahmudullah Riyad and Mushfiqur Rahim during the Asia Cup.
The Tigers departed yesterday for the UAE, where their tournament will start on September 15 with a match against Sri Lanka.
Mahmudullah, who was in good form in the Caribbean Cricket League (CPL), has been an integral part of the Bangladesh team and said that he will be looking to utilise the confidence in the upcoming multi-national event.
"I think any challenging cricket gives you good practice and I had a fair outing in the CPL this season. I won't say that I did something exceptional, but whatever scope and opportunity I received I tried to get the most out of it. Let's see how much of that confidence I can take with me," said Mahmudullah before departing at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport yesterday.
The 32-year-old thought that Bangladesh's recent limited-overs series wins in the West Indies will boost confidence ahead of the Asia Cup.
"If we talk about confidence as a team I would say we are in a very good position as we won the ODI and T20I series in West Indies pretty well. The last series went well for us as both batsmen and bowlers did well and we played the final of the last two editions of the Asia Cup, so from that point of view we are confident. Having said that, every team [in the Asia Cup] is good and they have been playing good cricket, so every match is equally important for us. We have to play our best cricket and we have to keep that in mind when we play," he said.
There are concerns over whether Shakib will be available for the whole tournament since he is suffering from a finger injury sustained earlier this year during the tri-nation series at home in January, and when asked whether he is ready to fill Shakib's boots at number three, Mahmudullah said that he is prepared to contribute anywhere the team management wants him to bat.
After the tournament opener against Sri Lanka in Dubai, Bangladesh will face their other group member Afghanistan on September 20 in Abu Dhabi and Mahmudullah said that their main aim would be to qualify for the second round.
"I don't think it will be good if we are relaxed, as every game is important. I previously said that we have to play our best to beat the opponents and there are no alternatives to that. Be it Sri Lanka or Afghanistan, our main aim is to play good cricket and qualify for the second round and then we will take it from there," said Mahmudullah.