'No rivalry against SL, Afghanistan'
Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusingha and captain Shakib Al Hasan brushed aside talk of Bangladesh's rivalry against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan at a press conference in Mirpur today as the Tigers take on these two sides in the first round of Asia Cup.
Bangladesh will start their campaign against Sri Lanka in Kandy on August 31 and will square off against Afghanistan in Lahore three days later.
When asked how he sees Bangladesh's rivalry with Sri Lanka stemming from the Nidahas Trophy, the coach said: "I'm not aware of the rivalry but then, lately, those two teams played really good games against each other, especially in the previous Asia Cups."
The Sri Lanka born coach, who is currently in charge of the Tigers for his second stint, had previously left the Tigers' dugout to take over in Sri Lanka.
The Nidahas Trophy, where Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka in a tempestuous encounter to move into the final, has been a talking point in South Asian cricket since 2018, and Hathurusingha was the coach of the Lankan team at that time, having just defected from the Bangladesh dugout. But the coach simply brushed aside any notion of any lingering rivalry.
"I think both teams (Sri Lanka and Afghanistan) give us a good challenge. But at the same time, I think we had some success against them in the recent past. So, we don't take the rivalry into account, but our strategy against both teams is how we can get an advantage," the Lankan said.
Shakib, too, was unwilling to term the contest as rivalry; he instead feels that such a contest is good for cricket.
"I don't like the term rivalry that much," Shakib said. "We've always had competitive encounters which is good for the crowd and for cricket. The players don't feel any such rivalry. The important thing for the players is to win for their countries."