‘Tigers must establish bold intent quick’
Bangladesh have a stern test in their Asia Cup opener on Tuesday against Afghanistan and that they have to grab the proverbial bull by the horn right from the onset for success, reckons veteran coach Nazmul Abedeen Fahim.
Prior to the ongoing continental tournament, Bangladesh engaged in two three-match T20I away series against West Indies and Zimbabwe, in that order. And in both tours, not only the Tigers failed to win the series, they could neither establish a stable playing eleven nor a playing style in the fast-evolving format.
Fahim reckons the Tigers will be in uncharted waters as they take on the Afghans, who demolished the Lankans with a convincing eight-wicket win in the tournament opener on Saturday.
"Bangladesh are not familiar with an opponent who are playing like how Afghanistan did against Sri Lanka. And the preparation ahead of the Asia Cup did not help their cause either," Fahim told The Daily Star yesterday.
Afghanistan have demonstrated how far they've progressed since making their debut in the Asia Cup in 2014, showing boldness and clarity in their approach against Sri Lanka in all departments of the game.
Sri Lanka were struggling from the start as left-arm quick, Fazalhaq Farooqi, caused all sorts of trouble with his control of swing deliveries that zipped in either direction. Fahim knows the Bangladesh batters all too well, having mentored several stalwarts in the country, and thinks that Bangladesh, especially their batters, cannot afford to sit back, play to their impulses, and wait for things to happen.
"Afghan bowlers have shown that they are not willing to play in conventional means, bowling dot balls to stifle the batters but instead they are eager to look for the breakthroughs."
Fahim praised the Afghan bowlers, who were able to bundle out the Sri Lanka side to a below-par 105. He was also impressed with how Afghanistan did not let their foot off the pedal during the chase.
"The way they chased 100-odd runs in under 11 overs was a testament to their evolved mindset and approach. They could've taken the chase easy but to their credit, Afghanistan did not allow any room for complacency," Fahim said.
The veteran coach reiterated the need for Bangladesh to establish a positive intent as early as possible, to heighten their chances of progressing far in the marquee event.
"Bangladesh have to ensure they don't allow pressure to build up. Positive intent is vital to make the difference," concluded the coach.
With Sri Lanka beaten, Bangladesh can afford to lose the Afghanistan encounter and go all out against the Lankans and thus, progress in the Super Four behind the Afghans. However, by doing so, Tigers' fixtures in the Super Four will be complicated since the second-placed team from Group B is the only team who are scheduled to play two games on consecutive days.
Therefore, a high-risk approach against the high-flying Afghans could reap high rewards for the three-time runners-up in their quest for the elusive Asia Cup trophy.